by Randy Madison
We have all heard the observation, “One can make a difference!” One person. One friend. One Church. One Small Group. One team. One conversation. One teacher. One mentor. Everyone reading this can also think of those once-in-a-lifetime conversations, relationships, encounters or experiences that have made a significant difference in our lives.
By now we have all heard and read of yet another horrific mass shooting that took the lives of 21 unsuspecting innocent people at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday morning, May 24.
Like you, I have read some of the stories of the 19 energetic 3rd and 4th-grade children and the two heroic teachers who lost their lives in this major tragedy. One of the images I cannot get out of my mind is that of Eva Mireles, one of two teachers in the classroom where the tragedy took place. She had been a teacher for 17 years. According to Lydia Salazar Torres of San Antonio, Mrs. Mireles was a hero for helping her nephew escape the fourth-grade classroom. “He was the last little boy she helped out of the window. And then she got shot,” she says.
She died along with Irma Garcia as they heroically tried to shield their classroom children from the shooter. Irma, co-teacher in the classroom with Eva Mireles spent her entire 23-year career at Robb Elementary in Uvalde.
In Little ‘Rock in 2018, one conversation between two next-door neighbors led to the formation of a unique church/school partnership. In a desire to make a difference in the community, Mt Zion and Calvary Baptist began a mentoring program at Henderson Middle School in 2019. This unified Zionalvary team of 10 mentors from the two congregations is now serving at J.A. Fair K-8 Preparatory School.
This Spring they received the outstanding mentor award at the VIPS annual award event. One conversation led to the formation of one mentoring team in one school making a difference in the lives of a group of 6th-grade students.
One sermon given by one pastor on one Sunday impacted the life of one person this past year. That person was me. I joined the team. I am now a proud member of the Zionalvary team as we mentor our group of 18 boys who call themselves the “whybeslimes?” 😊 I have met one sixth-grader, Kevin (not his real name). We are developing a friendship and mentor-mentee relationship. I hope to reconnect with the mentoring team and Kevin for the 2022-23 school year as the students move into 7th grade. We hope to expand the process and involve men and women from a third church who will be joining the team in order to make a difference in the lives of new 6th grade boys and girls this next school year.
One can make a difference! Would you prayerfully consider being another one in the life of one student which could lead to a relationship with one family to make a difference for
Christ in this broken world that so desperately needs the touch of his love?
Dr. Ken Canfield, Ph. D. founder and president of the National Center for Fathering and now the president of the National Association of Grandparenting (GrandsMatter.org) says, “Children are the message we send to the generation we will not see.” Would you consider investing your time and life in the life of one young student who might build a bridge to loving and serving their family?
Children and families matter. They matter now more than ever in our fragmenting culture filled with fragile families crying out for help. What if one person had reached out to Salvador Ramos the 18-year-old shooter in Uvalde before it was too late? We are told he had very few friends. Could it have made a difference?
I will not forget the image in my mind of Eva Mireles lifting that 4th-grade boy through the window of that classroom just before she was shot and killed. She made a difference. That child’s life will be forever changed. She and Irma Garcia also made a significant difference in the lives of many children in their lifetime of faithful service and love to students and their families. You can do the same as a mentor and tutor! Your investment in the life of one student is like lifting one child through a window to safety and freedom in our fragmenting family world. Will you be that one who makes a difference?