>> by Meagan Thomas Messenger Intern
Children cheering for abstinence and seeing the people of God bring hope and truth into the classroom is what’s happening within the Oklahoma City Public Schools through Lifewize, a program that teaches junior high and high school students to make good decisions in all aspects of life.
Because students are responding positively to the program’s curriculum and volunteers, Lifewize and the Oklahoma Baptist Home for Children (OBHC) have built bridges, so Lifewize can expand and fulfill God’s purpose for the program.
In the three years since Lifewize began, the organization has fostered not only healthy, positive decision-making, but it also has encouraged participants to maintain the relationships with the mentors/volunteers. And to genuinely connect with the children, there has to be one individual who can genuinely relate to the internal struggles many children should not need to face.
Lifewize Coordinator Gwendolyn Poteat is a living testament of overcoming the culture’s and society’s void promises, and living for something that promises more than what this world could ever offer. Poteat shares her struggles that all stemmed from the condemnation from her own mother, to the sexual abuse from her grandfather.
“I heard the message that because I wanted to be loved, to get love from men, you give them sex. I became a promiscuous teenage girl and became pregnant at 17. A lot of the things we see in our culture today, I’ve lived,” Poteat said. “I see that those things that were destructive, painful, things that caused me to feel like a victim because they were out of my control are the things now I can use to make a difference through Lifewize.”
And what was it that led her to the road Christ has been paving for her? People who actively searched and invited her and her husband/father of her daughter into their lives. From the initiation and time believers poured into her, she would one day become the one who pours and leads young people to Christ.
“I have an opportunity to build relationships with young people because that’s my passion. For example, we will meet at a McDonald’s for a soft drink and hang out. Those were the type of things that the people that invested in Albert and me, when we were a young couple; they let us do life with them,” Poteat said. “That’s what family is supposed to be about: doing life together, but our culture is not like that anymore. As we’re doing life, we have these teachable moments and conversations. So, that is why these young ladies and gentlemen have taught us while they allowed us to see (their lives).”
By His sovereignty and provision, God has brought Lifewize to a point where it has to expand its facility and resources, and forming an alliance with OBHC to reach for those who are yearning an escape from the world’s clutches, and into the Heavenly Father’s arms, whether they realize it or not.
Tony Kennedy, OBHC president, has seen God work through the hands of Poteat and those who volunteer. Kennedy has seen young people make a complete 360 from the world’s definition of a relationship, to the Body that resides here on Earth as Christ’s precious bride and reflects the ultimate relationship: the Church.
“We have seen young men and women who have not been involved in a church relationship start a church relationship and then make a decision for purity; knowing they can do that. Society says this is what you have to do; it has to be ‘Sex and the City’ and those kind of heroes. There’s an altogether Hero out there, and that’s the Hero who is faithful to God and His authority, not society’s,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy goes onto say that “Through Jesus Christ, we don’t curse the darkness, we light a candle. We see Lifewize as a candle.”
The alliance between Lifewize and OBHC is not exclusive however. No, this alliance calls for action from the Church and be what the Scriptures call us to be. Church is not a place where people have to show their humanly strength and endurance. The Church’s main function is to come together, in all brokenness, and heal one another through the blood-tie of Christ. Poteat reaffirms the Church’s mission and purpose.
“As we look at taking Lifewize and partnering with the faith community, what I feel to establish and what I’m thinking, is just (we as churches are) critical care centers. Broken families can truly come and catch their breath, to begin to experience healing. And who better to do it than God’s people?,” Poteat said.