A Fifth Grade Milestone
Fifth grade graduation was a milestone for James*. He was in danger of being held back because of his math scores. Fortunately for James, he was part of Oaks Atlanta, a Navigator-led after school program that includes homework help, mentoring, and Bible study.
Lawrence Brown, I-58 Navs staff, shares about his relationship with James. “James was used to seeking attention by getting into trouble and then being rejected. During his years at Oaks Atlanta, he learned that we would love him unconditionally and show him Christ’s love. Over time, he has learned that he doesn’t have to earn God’s love, that the Gospel is not about merit. This has transformed him into being able to receive love.”
In addition to love and structure, when Lawrence learned from one of the teachers that James was in danger of not passing, he invested extra time in math drills to build James’ confidence. After he passed the math test and completed 5th grade, James said, “You guys believe in me. I know you care.”
The investment in elementary students can change the trajectory of young lives, and help them see an alternative to gangs and unhealthy relationships. Lawrence says, “We connect with kids when they are young, so they are like wet concrete. Over time we build trusting relationships. We want to be change agents, so that these young people will grow up and have a positive impact on their community, not moving away when they are older, but changing the environment from within.”
In addition to kids programs, Oaks Atlanta works to connect with families. Recently they hosted a film night, watching Inside Out, an animated feature about emotions. A Christian counselor led the group in games and role-playing to help parents understand how to listen to their kids and give them healthy tools to handle emotions.
Lawrence, his wife, Erika, and the rest of the I-58 Navs Oaks Atlanta team have a vision for empowering kids to become leaders in their community for God’s glory. And each milestone, each graduation, each positive relationship is a step toward realizing that vision.
“They will be called oaks of righteousness. A planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”