I’ve spent my entire life with a chronic illness known as Sickle Cell Anemia. I, like my father before me who died when I was only eight years old, have faced many hardships. But God has been very gracious in that He has not allowed me to endure as many other who are like me. My personal trials have included severe leg ulcers that have prevented me from walking for months at a time; chronic joint pain that caused debilitating swelling in my hand as a child, often to three times the normal size; and I also have pulmonary hypertension, medical speak for high blood pressure in my lungs, which makes it difficult to pump oxygen throughout my body.
As I reflect on this most recent World Sickle Cell Awareness Day, which took place on June 19, 2014, I am reminded of God’s grace and mercy towards me, in that He has allowed me the opportunity to return to school for higher education. Education has always been important to me, but my illness in years prior was a barrier. I am thankful to Regent University for a number of reasons; (1) the climate here has been much warmer than that of where I lived much of my earlier life. The colder climate of Baltimore, MD was always a harsh environment; (2) Regent has made giving back to the community a core value. As a student, when I first stepped foot on the campus and saw how there were so many opportunities for a person to get connected to the local community, whether it was through Operation Blessing, an area food bank or Good Will, or even the Red Cross, it reminded me that we each have a call to a ministry that helps to change the world.
If you think for a moment that one person cannot make a difference, you only have to look around the campus at any one of the students, like me, who find grace in others who pour out their hearts of compassion when an act of love and charity is shown. During this last school year, the College of Arts & Sciences placed an emphasis on the issue of poverty. We had the opportunity to hear about ways in which we could better approach doing charity. It has changed much of how I thought about giving back and helping others. Where I might have previously thought that helping someone was to simply give them what I felt they needed, I now see that real help is in seeing what their true need is, then working with them to help them to empower themselves. The one thing I know for certain is that love is only love when it goes to making things better, not becoming a barrier to making another whole.family, Operation Blessing, poverty, Sickle Cell Anemia