Note: this post was written by Grayson Lowery, former Charlotte Fellow, class of 2014-2015. Grayson currently lives in Charlotte with his wife Margaret and their dog Hayes. He is attending law school at the University of Elon (Grayson, not Hayes).
I grew up singing “Jesus Loves the Little Children”, and those words will always be deeply ingrained in my mind and heart. It wasn’t until recently that I realized the lyrics of that song are rooted in much deeper, profound truths. In Mark 10:14, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Recently my church in Charlotte focused on this passage, and I was humbled as I examined my own faith in relation to my personal relationship with Jesus.
One of my biggest takeaways from my time as a Charlotte Fellow was a real understanding that I am God’s chosen child, and that I truly have to trust Him fully in every area of my life. Imagine the common illustration of a little boy standing at the edge of the deep end of a pool, his dad waiting to catch him. The dad says, “I’ve got you, you can trust me”, and the little boy, fully trusting that he is completely safe, jumps in and swims to his dad. Take that picture, and put yourself into the shoes of the little boy. When you “jump” do you know that no matter where you land, or how well you “swim” God will be there to see you through whatever that situation might be? I find myself closest to my Heavenly Father when I trust Him just as I trusted the person who made me feel safest as a little child. In my opinion, this is what Brookstone Schools is teaching their students, and it is exactly what Brookstone taught me.
Brookstone Schools is a “non-denominational Christian school incorporating a biblical worldview into quality education for under-resourced families in Charlotte” with a vision to “raise up the next generation of leaders from Charlotte’s inner-city neighborhoods by caring for the entire child and inviting families to invest in the lives of their children.” The Charlotte Fellows volunteer their time doing things like helping students learn their multiplication tables, making copies for teachers, working in the development office, eating lunch with students, etc. It was here, when I was serving students and teachers, that I really saw my relationship with Christ grow.
I’m not sure about you, but most of the time I’m pretty self-consumed. Even as a Charlotte Fellow, where I was studying in seminary classes, participating in Bible studies, and living life with members of the fellows’ community, I was always thinking about me. Every Monday morning, Brookstone challenged me to step outside of myself. I experienced 6th grade all over again from perspectives that were very different. For me, the best part of the fellows program was our time spent at Brookstone. I was pushed out of my comfort zone to teach, share, mentor, and relate to students who were often very discouraged and living lives that were hard for me to understand. I was brought to my knees (literally and figuratively) to pray for students in situations I had never imagined. Many days were fun and easy, many discouraging and tough, and it was in those moments, equally, as I grew to love those students that I learned to hand God my fears, wants, and hopes for those students. As I trusted Him to lead those students instead of myself, I found myself better able to love those students He had given me to serve. When we hand God every little piece of our lives, we are freed to love as He has loved us.
The teachers and staff at Brookstone teach students much more than math and spelling and English. Just as Jesus called the little children to Him, and showed them love, the Brookstone staff does the same for their students. God shows His love for us so often through the people He puts in our lives. The school is like many others – students don’t always completely adore those that are giving them instructions; however, Brookstone Schools is a beautiful picture of God’s hands and feet as they seek to not just provide children in Charlotte with great education, but they seek to grow students into Christian leaders.