Peeking through the window, I could see the group of students huddled around a science experiment, all of them engaged, hanging on the teacher’s every word.
Reluctantly I knocked, and a boy — a young man, I should say — broke away from the group and greeted me at the door. He reached out and firmly shook my hand and introduced himself. After telling him my name, he turned to his classmates and introduced me. In unison they all said hello, told me about how excited they were about learning, about their hope for their future, and how education and their faith would change their lives.
I felt a little guilty for interrupting them, but the look on each child’s face showed how proud they were to share these things with me, to show me that they were going to succeed.
This wasn’t at all what I expected from a classroom in the Third Ward.
If I hadn’t seen it for myself, I’m not sure I would have believed it. I taught for a few years in an inner-city school; obviously something here at Generation One was different.
“We’ve learned the transformation formula is ‘love x time = trust,’ From trust you can get to hope. From hope you can have faith. And with faith you can have action, which will transform you,” Mike Malkemes, the ministry’s director, had explained to me before I saw it in action in the classroom upstairs.
Clearly, that formula has transformed the lives of these students, many of whom have parents who have been murdered, parents who are in prison, parents who have abandoned them.
Slowly but surely, God is using Generation One, their academy and other community outreach ministries, to change lives in the Third Ward.
And now He’s calling us to partner with Generation One in that mission. But we can’t spend one Saturday in that community and say that it’s good enough, that we’ve done what God has called us to do.
That’s not sufficient. That’s not the kind of time required for the formula to work.
Become a mentor to one of their kids. Tutor a student at the academy. Teach a parenting class, a money-management class, or a Bible study to their parents. Bring your family, and share a meal and fellowship with their families. Spend time in the Third Ward. Love the people you meet there.
It won’t take long for you to see God working in that community.
“You can’t skip the ‘love x time = trust,’ ”Mike said. “Without trust, you can’t hope. Once you can hope, it’s a short jump to faith, and once you’re there, then anything works.”
To find ways to serve with Generation One in Houston’s Third Ward, contact Sherry Lewallen.
This story first originally appeared in The Point, Fall 2013 edition.