by Pastor Tim Burt
Life had never been easy for Tyrone; that’s an understatement! He lived in one of Chicago’s most troubled, crime-ridden, and gang-infested neighborhoods. Over the years, he’d found himself in numerous scrapes. Tyrone, at 16, was a struggling student, barely able to read or write. His future appeared grim, with the ominous shadow of his neighborhood’s bad influences looming over him.
Selma, Tyrone’s mother, toiled relentlessly, juggling two full-time jobs to support them both. This left Tyrone alone far more often than was legal or appropriate. Selma, with her limited education and lack of support, could do little to change their circumstances, relying instead on her unwavering faith in God for everything, including Tyrone’s safety.
Just a few blocks from their apartment stood a dilapidated neighborhood church that Selma attended. Sundays, God, and church were the most sacred and important parts of her life beyond her son Tyrone. Her dear friend Shanna, the church’s sole employee aside from the pastor, helped Selma keep an eye on Tyrone when she could.
One day, Shanna spotted Tyrone walking past the church and called out to him, requesting his help. Tyrone regarded Shanna as his aunt and eagerly offered his assistance. He loved a good and worthy distraction from the troubled neighborhood. After helping Shanna, she made a proposal to Tyrone. The church had received a small grant to refurbish the building, and she’d vouched for him to the pastor. Could he work two hours after school most days to assist her? It was an easy decision for Tyrone. He didn’t want to follow the path of illegal activities that most of his peers took. He knew it would devastate his mother and produce a dead-end life. He began working that very day, and when he shared the news with his mother, she was overwhelmed with thanksgiving for God’s help.
Tyrone’s involvement in the church led him to attend services regularly and help other children. Amidst the neighborhood’s challenges, the pastor, Shanna, and Tyrone created a small sanctuary in a rough, parched land.
Shanna dedicated the first 15 minutes of each two-hour workday to tutoring Tyrone in reading and education. Though brief, this consistent effort profoundly impacted Tyrone’s self-esteem and aspirations. Over the next two years, those daily 15-minute sessions transformed Tyrone into one of the few high school graduates in the neighborhood. Not only that, but he excelled enough to secure a college admission and a surprise scholarship.
Tyrone knew this was all a gift from God. He diligently applied himself, eventually graduating near the top of his class. His mother wept tears of joy and thanksgiving, knowing that her faith and hope in God outshined all the hardships she’d endured. Her greatest reward came when Tyrone accepted the position of replacing the retiring pastor at their growing local church.
People in the neighborhood listened to Tyrone in a way they never had with anyone else. They knew his mother, and they knew he grew up in the neighborhood, making him more credible than anyone else to lead their church. In short, the church flourished. Pastor Tyrone and Shanna convinced the people in their congregation to see themselves as missionaries in their own community. He helped infuse tremendous hope and purpose into their lives. The neighborhood experienced steady change for the better, attracting grants and support from those who saw this transformation. It was truly a progressive miracle! And it all started with a praying, faith-filled mother. As James 5:16 says, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
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In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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