A new beginning

Jimmy McQuilkin is one of my new heroes. 

Jimmy graduated from Wake Forest University, spent a summer as an intern with UrbanPromise Honduras, taught for a few years with Teach for America, and then was hired as a middle school Spanish teacher in Charlotte, NC. 

Two years ago Jimmy shared his interest in starting an UrbanPromise in Charlotte. 

“I love teaching,” he confided, “but these kids need programs after school, during the summer months.” 

He went on to share some of the challenges facing youth growing up in the inner city of Charlotte.  Jimmy shared how there was a dire need for Christian-based programs like the UrbanPromise sites in Camden and Honduras.  “We need these kinds of programs in this city.”

So Jimmy started to talk to people in his community.  He talked to pastors, friends, parents, youth, and potential donors.  He shared his vision for an UrbanPromise.  He shared stories about what he had experienced in Honduras.    Community members got excited. 

This past August Jimmy left the security of his job as a teacher.  Gone is the regular paycheck, gone are the benefits, gone is the security.  Jimmy is now a missionary, raising his own support and raising money to underwrite program costs.  A big step of faith.

“Jim,” I shared.  “I have to be honest.  There will be no guarantees.  If you haven’t raised the money, there will be no paycheck.  Are you sure you want to move forward?”

Fortunately Jimmy said, “Yes!”  Yes to the call of God on his life.  Yes to the insecurities and the uncertainties.  Yes to a journey of faith.

Over the years I have come to the conclusion that God’s work and witness is birthed in the world when ordinary people like Jimmy say “Yes” to God.  Ordinary people end up doing extraordinary things with their lives because they willingly put aside their fears, their insecurities, their egos, and their need to control.  In the act of saying “Yes!” God is given permission to move. 

I have a favorite quote.  It goes like this:  “Faith is putting ourselves in situations where, if God doesn’t show up, we’re in trouble.”  I think the quote captures the essence of the biblical story from Abraham to Moses, from Mary to the disciples.  It’s a story about ordinary people, willing to respond to God’s prompting and put themselves in situations where, if God doesn’t show up, they are in trouble.   When this happens, amazing things can happen.