As a way of thanking you for your prayers and generous gifts to Desire Street, we’re giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the life-changing ministry that goes on in the day-to-day world of our ministry partners.
This week I’d like to share a story from St. Roch CDC, as told by Executive Director Ben McLeish. I encourage you to check out their website to see the impact they’re making in the St. Roch and St. Claude neighborhoods of New Orleans, LA.
Life-on-Life Transformational Ministry
This picture was taken this summer when Noonie (on the left) helped me (on the right) lead a week of Maker Camp that my family hosted in our basement. Pictured also is Malik, who is a kid in a situation (much like Noonie’s was 10 years ago).
I met Noonie when he was about 6. Today he’s 21. He had a very tumultuous childhood full of poverty, violence, loss and neglect.
After a Hurricane Katrina evacuation that sounds less believable than fiction, he made it back to New Orleans—as a teenager on his own. He dropped out of school and engaged in the street life. This got him arrested and thrown in jail. A couple years later, a message appeared in my FaceBook inbox from Noonie and soon afterward, we reconnected.
At the time, we were launching Restoration Thrift to provide jobs for guys like Noonie, so I hired him. Now, two years later, he’s still with us and has even added a couple other part-time gigs. He also moved into one of our rental properties (referred to as the purple house, a place for young men from our neighborhood looking to turn their lives around) with one of our Fellows (a 12-month intensive designed to learn to love radically, lead humbly, and use work to bring about true flourishing). Noonie recently invited a young man living out of a truck to be his roommate! Noonie’s heart of generosity is huge.
This past month, Noonie participated in our Faith & Finances 12-week financial literacy class. Participants are often called on to read short portions. This is no big deal for most, but Noonie has large hurdles to overcome with his literacy skills so he never volunteered to read. In one of the last sessions however, he raised his hand to read. I was nervous for him. He struggled through the words, mispronouncing a few, but made it through. I had to work hard to keep from shedding a tear.
Noonie is also a part of my small group at St. Roch Community Church. He leads the way in confessing where he’s slipping and regularly asks for prayers and accountability. His bravery to risk his pride in front of others humbles me regularly and makes me reflect on ways I work diligently to protect my image. I’m so grateful that Noonie is in my life. God’s using him to challenge and change me.
As you think about how you invest your time, talent and treasure, I would encourage you to consider helping guys like Noonie move from just surviving to thriving.
At St. Roch CDC, we empower local leaders and neighbors like Noonie to flourish because projects don’t end poverty, people do. Give today.