Social distancing or physical distancing?

 Attitude, COVID-19, Encouragement, Kinship, Mutuality  Comments Off on Social distancing or physical distancing?
Jan 202021
 

I’ve been looking forward to writing this post for some time, but first, let me start by saying that today, more than ever, I pray for unity in our country. As our new president and vice president are sworn in at noon today, my hope that we are more accepting of our kin and our neighbors. This undoubtedly starts in our homes, schools and workplaces. Whether or not you voted for President Biden, we are called to respect our elected officials and the authority that their offices represent.

Now on to my thoughts on the road forward, and a question to think about. Have you wondered how you’ll respond when we get the post pandemic all-clear? I think I’m going to go hug 50 people … from the physical distance of the pandemic CDC guidelines to invading that infamous 6 foot distance and show some compassion and care, sans the mask.

God loves to use people that others seemingly overlook. Maybe that’s you, if you consider that you, yes you, can be the encouragement that others need. Perhaps put your, and their isolation and discouragement, to bed. Maybe reach out to the worker at the hotel, or the attendant at a gas station. Over the past two weeks, being the start of 2021, I have tried to put myself out there. I have two examples to share. The first instance was at a breakfast place where Jim was sipping coffee at the kitchen bar, minding his own business. We simply struck up a brief conversation. Delightful old man, with lots to share. The second was Robert, who I had seen previously at an out of town coffee shop. The quintessential village coffee shop greeter and PR guy. Interesting as all get up was Robert, single, never married, strong believer in Gods grace and mercy, who moved to Ashe county six months ago to be near to his niece, whose hubby is a local church pastor. Both these new friends were alone, and remarked that they were lonely, which is why they were out in public. Both were, however, strategically placed there for more than coffee. This is how God uses people to put a smile on someone’s dial, and make a new acquaintance, just by being out there and looking for divine appointments. People who have more to offer than receive. That could be you as well, if you, like me, take the time to slow down and listen. These are the beginnings of kinship relationships. All who wonder are not lost, but perhaps on a mission to improve life for someone else.

Whose quiet faithfulness has made a difference in your life? Do you wonder how you can perhaps serve God by serving someone else today?

Lord God in heaven, thank you for never overlooking me. I am thankful You can use me to make a difference wherever I am. Use me to show the love You have shown me as I seek to help your people, here on your mission field. Amen

God is not unjust. He will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people” Hebrews 6:10

May this year be filled with many conversations, with overlooked strangers, friends and neighbors, whether physically distant or not …

Brent M, LHCC

Adapted, in part, from a daily devotion by Our Daily Bread, written by James Banks, January 2021

 Posted by at 10:50 am
Jan 082021
 

Happy New Year to all our blog readers and friends. Let’s be praying that we, as a nation, will start the process of uniting and showing respect for everyone we come in contact with, without bias or discrimination. Starting with those under our roof would be my recommendation, and I speak from real-world experience … Education and respect surely start in the home…

So we have a “Big Idea” for this New Year. LHCC has seen over the past 8 years that the zest for school seems to dissipate with our graduating fifth graders, as they move on from elementary school. Too often, it’s a downward slope of discouragement and disengagement.

A Gallop poll undertaken some years prior to the pandemic, found a disturbing slope in the wrong direction for fifth- to twelve-grade students in the US. Only 6 in 10 middle school students reported being engaged in school. That number goes further south, 4 in 10, for high schoolers. That metric started out at almost 8 in 10 for elementary school students. Gallop defines engaged as students who feel involved in the learning process and who have positive connections with teachers and the school. Feedback included the view that disengaged students felt they did not get the chance to do the things they are best at doing. Students will stay engaged if the encounter frequent successes, are given chances and have more positive interactions with adults.

LHCC is looking for practical ideas to help our secondary school students in 2021. By this I mean helping middle and high school students find their voice, show them that they matter, and can be trusted. As in-person school attendance has been very limited, or frankly non-existent for most secondary level students this school year, we are looking for ways to motivate them, to help them discover their passion for what they enjoy. We are therefore introducing a different perspectives on academics.

Creating a culture of Leadership

I love this quote by Sir Ken Robinson, from The Element. “The fact that given the challenges we face, education doesn’t need to be reformed. It needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions”

Learning is surely more that going to school and getting an education. Other vital dimensions of growing up include cross cultural exposure and learning life skills. Non scholae sed vitae discimus. We learn, not for school, but for life  ~ a sign in a high school entrance declares.

We are dreaming about a LHCC Leadership Academy for secondary school students

Ways to give our students a chance to be leaders. We believe that giving them responsibility can surely change their maturity. Make a concerted effort to ask their opinions and focus on listening and giving them a voice, and teaching them to use it

Pair our younger students with our older student leaders. Ask them to read to their younger siblings or play board games. Let them practice the language they will be graduating from American school, usually different from their home language

We are planning to develop a curriculum that is not just academic, but rather focused on skills like problem solving, public speaking and debating (kindly)

In closing, let me provide two more quotes by folks who are much more versed than I in weighing in on this topic of academics.

What students need to succeed in the 21st century is an education that is both academically rigorous and “real world” relevant. This objective of rigor and relevance is not just for some students, it is for all students  ~ Dr. Willard Doggett

The research is abundantly clear: nothing motivates a child more than when learning is valued by schools and families/communities working together in partnership … these forms of involvement do not happen by accident or even by invitation. They happen by explicit strategic intervention ~ Michael Fullan

At LHCC, we desire to inspire and motivate greatness in all our children … one child at a time … After all, the woods would surely be silent if no bird sang but the best. We’d love to have you join us in a united chorus of encouragement and hope as we bring in a new year.

Brent Morris

ED of LHCC

January 2021

 Posted by at 6:53 pm
Nov 112020
 

An aboriginal woman from Australia said to some earnest, well intentional missionaries: “If you’re coming to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up in mine, then let us work together.” I am quoting from a book I’m reading called Barking at the Choir, subtitled Radical Kinship, by Father Greg Boyle. The title, itself, is a another thought provoking conundrum of opposites that causes one to ponder …what on earth is he referring to. Allow me to continue …

In the same chapter, called Exquisite Mutuality, Boyle writes about a volunteer, determined to join the efforts at his missional organization, told Boyle that she just had to volunteer with his organization. When asked why, she replied, “Because I believe I have a message these young folks need to hear”. The minute you lose that message, come back and see us” was his response.

At LHCC we are embarking on a new initiative. Something very exciting, even extraordinary, that we see as synergistic with our existing program service offerings. In short, it is our belief that volunteers generally want to make an impact and build relationships in our cross-cultural ministry. What we desire to prove, or test out during an pilot phase of an multi-year project, is whether the feelings and results might be considered mutual. We know the families we serve are positively impacted, but could those who serve alongside us, as volunteers, feel increasingly connected? Might volunteers invited to serve opportunities at non-profits across the city come away from their experiences with a greater sense of happiness at having made a difference in the life of a student? 

Stated differently, might volunteers arrive at a mountain top where the feeling of satisfaction is matched by the smiles and joy of those whose lives we walk alongside, so that both are liberated? This is what we are calling mutuality. This is what has been referred to as kinship. Arriving at a place of exquisite mutuality, as fascinating and radical as that may sound.

Over the next year, with the support of a generous philanthropist, LHCC is going to strengthen its operations through increased engagement and involvement of prospective churches, congregants and non-profits, to focus on this so-called mutuality journey.

Let the learning begin. If we can learn to love our neighbors and fill our love tanks by what we learn and gain from our own liberation, could we change the rhythm and trajectory of a deeply divided city? If you have read this far, thank you for reading this first of many blogs on the topic of mutuality. We hope you will join us on this exciting journey. May our love tanks be full to overflowing. Email us at info@lhcclt.org with your comments and questions.

In am,

Brent Morris

Executive Director, LHCC

November 11, 2020

PS – More blogposts coming, stay tuned and share your new-found love

 Posted by at 8:45 pm
Oct 072020
 

Thank-you for reading our latest ministry blogpost. You will need to read to the bottom to find out about our latest award.

On the ministry frontlines, we have been walking alongside a young mother, Elizabeth, and her family for a couple of years. We have learned first-hand of the home-front struggles, firstly with COVID-19, and then of remote leaning over the past six long months, without any in-person help. Along with its technology challenges and the many language barriers trying to help her four children, three in elementary school and one middle-school student, we have witnessed the struggles of staying connected with the daily grind of being on constant Zoom calls. Peer socialization has all but disappeared and emotional support evaporated by being home.

LHCC has intervened to engage both teachers and school counselors to provide much needed encouragement and hope. We launched our Connect Hub learning program in September. This has been such a challenging year for so many. I cannot imagine the hardships for those with special needs or living with homelessness. Has the school system done these children a disservice, with delayed returned to class, especially now that the governor has opened up schools to return? How will we ever measure the impact on the COVID-slide?

Your prayers for continued wisdom, guidance and open conversations are appreciated, as we come alongside this young family, and certainly many others like them. Grateful for this ministry and opportunity to build trust and provide hope in these relationships.

Quoting one of my favorite bible teachers Chip Ingram, and one who I have listened to for years, “the big answer to our worlds chaos is not political philosophical or religious, its spiritual” Let’s keep our leaders. nation, schools and neighbors in our daily prayers. Chip goes on to say The greatest need in America and the world right now is for us to love our neighbor. Only radical Christlike love will heal racism, political division and reveal the love of the savior to fractured and hurting people. 

On a different note, LHCC is also pleased to have been awarded the 2020 Great Non-Profits award this month. Thank-you to everyone who wrote a review. If you still would like to add your voice to our work, kindly text 455097492 to 888-432-6659 and in 3 easy steps, you too can help make LHCC a great non-profit by sharing your feedback.

Appreciate what the Lord is doing through our ministry

Brent Morris

October 7, 2020

 Posted by at 12:16 pm
Jul 232020
 

Since our new normal began in March with a stay-at-home order including school closings, our LHCC programs have taken on a new course of serving our neighbors. There have been blessings setbacks and disruptions.

As schools reopen on August 17, whatever that really means, in our “new normal”, the future of our after-school program remains uncertain…

What lies before us are a few options for helping our kids similar, to how we used to do, way back before time began, in mid-March…

  1. Virtual homework help by phone or video
  2. Live evening homework help at the church as we used to go, but no groups, just one on one help
  3. Weekly daytime check-in at the church for scheduled help. Parents bring kids by appointment and receive help from a volunteer for an hour or so
  4. Do nothing for kids directly, due to safer at home protocols, and support parents instead with how to help their kids at home

There are surely other choices. Our mission at Learning Help Centers is to provide scholastic, spiritual and social supports to our under-resourced families. The degree to which we can accomplish our goals varies for each of the options outlined above. Perhaps there are a combination of choices to best meet the needs of:

  • Our families, as well as
  • The varying schedules of our volunteers and staff.

We covet your feedback. Perhaps you know of other organizations similar to ours that have had more time than we have to think this through, while we’re been busy delivery over 25,000 kids meals and planning for summer enrichment camps. We value your opinion and hope that you will join us. Thank you in advance for praying for the safety and protection of our families and for helping LHCC determine how best to serve their ongoing needs during the pandemic.

Working while it is day

Brent Morris

July 23, 2020

 Posted by at 6:35 am

What’s not to Love

 Attitude, Education, Encouragement, Social Capital, Wisdom  Comments Off on What’s not to Love
Jan 262020
 

Take a moment to reflect on the myriad of influences and messages we receive in a given day. How do these forces shape you and those you love?

A recent study indicated that busy parents who believed that they spend 15 minutes with their children each day were actually spending a lot less than that in terms of interacting with and influencing their hearts and minds. This was closer to 37 seconds than 15 minutes. This ought to be a warning to all of us about what we allow to enter our homes, schools and media devices.

There are many belief systems that are influencing us as a society, as well as families and most certainly our children. TV shows, movies, music, teachers, friends, the media. Each of these carry assumptions. Some are obvious while others are perhaps a little under the radar. We can’t unwatch something we saw on TV. Children are exposed to things in this generation of media that is way and above greater than past generations. On the topic of faith, some are clear and concise. Others are exerting a subtle positive or negative influence. Just think of the many distractions alluring us away from what we know to be acceptable and true.

At LHCC, we conduct scholastic interventions. All our family interactions are intended to be social and ones that uplift, encourage and provide hope. We also exert a spiritual influence through prayers, bible lessons by doing and saying what we believe Jesus would have us emulate.

We are indeed grateful for the joy and privilege of gracefully nurturing children’s hearts towards God. In addition, any opportunities to instill similar behaviors in our own lives is worth noting, as we encourage others to do the same. Let us remain vigilant in doing good, so that the evil one not get a foothold.

“Continue in what you have learned … how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures” 2 Timothy 3:14-15.

 Posted by at 8:40 pm

Happy New Year

 Encouragement, Family, Our Mission, Reading is important  Comments Off on Happy New Year
Jan 012020
 

Firstly, may I wish all our blog readers a very happy and blessed 2020.

Over the holidays, I received a wonderful Christmas greeting card from one of our families that bears repeating here. It was written by one of our 7th grade students on behalf of the family, to me and my family. At the start of the new year, this message is inspiring and encouraging to me, my family and our LHCC staff. I dedicate it to all our partners and supporters for the privilege of being able to serve on the mission-field in this powerful and fulfilling way. It is also no doubt intended for each and every one of our volunteers and staff members.

“Dear Mr Brent, thank you for making LHCC, a really good thing in our community. You help a lot of children’s education become more successful. Thank you for encouraging us students to read. I really appreciate it. Thank you for helping us with our work and making us be better at school work, it does really help us, and we all appreciate that.

Education is very important, and you make a child’s education better. I know every child of the LHCC group appreciates it, and their parents. We all love that you gave your opportunity to help us and care about us in LHCC.

Love Karina P “

Truly humbled, and grateful for what we get to do, together, through scholastic, spiritual and social supports for families who appreciate what we do.

Brent Morris Executive Director LHCC January 1, 2020

 Posted by at 4:08 pm
Nov 032019
 

This past Tuesday, the LHCC family came together to honor me with a post-program dinner celebration of my birthday. I am very grateful for their kindness and generosity in providing a meal to feed 5,000 … literally. The Hispanic culture dictates that all family meals are a pot luck. Everyone contributes something tasty and the volunteers are always the guests of honor for their generous time commitments. Our families are grateful for the help they get as well as their children. Reflecting upon this joyous occasion, I wondered what it would be like to be grateful like that every day, birthdays or no birthdays…

Brennan Manning in his book Ruthless Trust posed the question of whether the primal sin of the first couple mentioned in the bible was ingratitude. Even before they were deceived and ate the fruit of the forbidden tree.

I believe that people who have known tough life and death situations, suffering and know what it is like to need something so bad they will do anything to get it, have had to draw upon trust or something like it, to find joy in their lives. They have literally had to swim upstream against the odds. The poor give larger proportions of their income to charity than the rich, because they know what it is like to have needs seemingly beyond their means.

If you are reading this then surely you have much more to be grateful for. Living in a first world country with plenty of clothes, a warm home and one maybe two cars. I have much to be grateful if I consider how much better off we are than many struggling for survival each and every day. Let me use this reminder to count my blessings every day and to praise God for blessing me abundantly and most assuredly more than I deserve.

Until next time

Brent Morris Executive Director

October 20, 2019

 Posted by at 7:53 pm
Oct 072019
 

Picture the scene. Ten or so pallets full of potato’s, totaling about 20 tons, being bagged by kind hearted folks into 10-pound bags on a cool Saturday morning. How did they get there you may ask? The potato’s that is…

It all takes place every year at Pineville Neighbors Place. A generous farmer donates what I call the gleanings in the form of potato’s, in support of the homeless and food banks. Gleanings is a term used in the bible and is defined as the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested. It is a practice arising over 2,000 years ago when it became a legally enforced entitlement of the poor in a number of Christian kingdoms.

Fast forward to Charlotte and the 21st century and it has taken on a more hands on meaning with a deeper connotation. Potatoes are trucked in from three hours away in central NC. Picture for a minute (or check out the video) random strangers, neighbors and school children standing in huddles around pallets of spuds, surgical gloves on, digging into the gleanings and bagging all 40,000 pounds of edible offerings until they are all bagged. It’s a beautiful picture of collaboration and unity across all races, cultures and people of different socio-economic backgrounds. High fives every time a pallet is transformed to handfuls for easy distribution. Organizations represented included Atrium Health, Cardinal Innovations, Pineville Elementary School, Learning Help Centers of Charlotte and Pineville United Methodist Church, to name a few. There were the many young, the young at heart, ambitious teachers and pastors, church congregants and community helpers. It was another awesome drop.

So, now you know what’s a potato drop. Lots of potato’s going to a needy cause, for sure, but more importantly, a show of how a community comes together, extends some love for the less fortunate and helps one non-profit make light work of an otherwise huge truck load.

Thank you, Jane Shutt and Pineville Neighbors Place, for blessing our neighbors and the LHCC families with a fun community service event, and more importantly a show of good neighborliness. Till next year …

Video credit to Mr. Morry Alter, who does great productions for non-profits like LHCC and PNP

Sep 222019
 

Are you crazy busy? More to do than hours in a day to get it all done? Might we take a time out? Read on for a simple challenge this week …

A recent LHCC summer blog post called out neighboring as an art. We shared this concept with our LHCC families this past summer and the results are in. Summer camper families grew closer. Volunteers got to build deeper relationships with families and children. Parents invited other parents to our program and we got to enjoy an end of summer celebration together. It was awesome.

When serving our neighbors, are we trying to look good or do good? Inviting others to our program or opening our homes to others is a great way to show hospitality. Weary people may join us to share a meal and conversation and hopefully leave feeling refueled and refreshed. It can be stressful and awkward for both hosts and guests. We get worked up, tidying up and fed up, focusing perhaps on appearance rather than good ol’ southern hospitality.

In Luke 10, Jesus pointed this out to Martha when her sister Mary was feasting more on the friendship than faffing about the food. Christian hospitality has more to do with good fellowship than good food. In the book Crazy Busy, the author points out that there is a fine line between care and cumber. Less ado would serve better. “Feed people, not your pride.”

How about a little challenge for the coming week:

  • Slow down your hurried life. Go out of your way to greet and chat to a neighbor.
  • Be present with our family ( aka put down the phone?), and
  • Make time for daily meditation and devotion. 15 to 20 minutes, tops. This might just be the one thing strong enough to pull you away from your busyness, so you can be intentional about becoming a good neighbor.

Peace to you, take it easy and have a Mary-like week

Brent M

 Posted by at 8:49 pm