We had just sat down at the table in a classroom of a recreation center.
I knew just a little about her story. She had given me a brief glimpse previously on the phone. It was different now though, looking at her, listening to her compassion and passion for young people, especially the wayward ones, those who needed the most guidance, those who without someone like her and her husband would find themselves continuing a generational trend in poverty, low self esteem and living out a life far below what God intended.
She spoke as though the seasons that had run through her life had left an indelible impression both upon her life and those she would touch in the future.
That was so true.
The non-profit organization she and her husband had established builds a mentor / mentee relationship for troubled youth in two communities just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, teaching them life skills and that God truly does have a plan for their individual lives.
She spoke of her own blended family with her husband together with eight children not counting those relatives or children in the neighborhood they would take in for extended periods. So many that they as a family purchased a fifteen seat passenger van.
Using the van to pick up and deliver young people to and from church became a routine ever expanding further and further.
The main reason? Their eleven year old daughter kept inviting people to church and she was very successful.
As we sat there today and she expressed her love and calling to young people there was one question I wanted to ask before we left each other.
I asked, “May I ask you a very personal question?” She agreed.
“Since your organization is named after your daughter and you previously told me she had passed away, may I ask you how you lost her?”
She then went into the details of how that day started like any other day. Her husband and some of the kids including this daughter were in the van when a truck hit them at an intersection less than five miles from their home.
She told me the details of what happened, the phone ringing, how when she headed to the hospital, not even knowing where the wreck had happened, she went another way. If not, she would have seen her daughter’s lifeless body beside the road with a sheet already placed over it.
She spoke of her daughter with respect, because, why wouldn’t she? It was nine years since the accident and the lives that the young eleven year old had impacted were still being impacted today. She impacted my life and I only knew her through her mother. She impacted every life that her father and mother will touch through their present and future ministry.
Yet, in her eyes…her eyes look tired. Not tired from weariness in well doing. Not tired from being beaten down by loss and disappointment.
It was more a tired you often see when someone has given everything to that purpose which God has called them.
Her eyes did not tell me she was ready to give up. Rather her eyes told me that if God would continue to strengthen she and her husband she would continue to bring young people out of the darkness into the light.
In such a sobering way she inspired me to reach out further, to further extend the love of Christ to those who are hopeless.
There was something about her eyes.