I believe in higher education. Even if the only thing you know about me is that I wrote an article for the Threefold Advocate, the newspaper for John Brown University, it’s a safe assumption. But let me explain.
I come from a single-mother home in Arkansas, which already communicates the small chance I would attend college. My mother is a pre-k teacher, so we never had much money. This meant that everything I wanted to accomplish in high school was done with the bare necessities. We had no money saved for college tuition. Finally, I am a first-generation college student.
Honestly, it wasn’t until college that I realized just how much God was breaking the age-old mold of my family. As far back as anyone could remember, my family has grown up in Arkansas, scraped through high school, taken a small job, married and settled down somewhere else in Arkansas. This has created a cycle of poverty in my family. Having less money than necessary to live safe and assured has also lead to my family, like many others, to have generational sin of broken and abusive marriages, refusing to love others who simply don’t agree with the “family beliefs,” and looking at the family who make it out of the cycle of poverty as if they think they are too good for the family.
My story is,unfortunately, like a lot of others that live right down the road from each and every one of us. But, observing my own life, there is a solution to this problem, if only the children whose families suffer from such a cycle can reach it.
Higher education is already changing my life and the lives of my family members. After beating the odds once
and graduating high school having achieved my goals, I had enough scholarship money to be able to attend a university such as JBU. I’ve not only been pushed academically and spiritually here, but I also carry my experiences and personal changes home, where I can have conversations with my family that show them how big and diverse the world truly is and how sovereign its Creator.
If I beat the increasingly unlikely odds again and graduate
from university, I am one step closer to being able to break this cycle of poverty in my family. Even if I don’t, I have expanded the playing eld for my future family and paved a clearer path for my children to have access to lives where they can afford the basic needs.
This is definitely a forgotten place where the Church could have a huge impact. For children to actually get higher education, they need to have support
through grade school, and many impoverished homes just don’t have such a luxury due to a parent or parents working overtime
to make ends meet, a parent or parents that selfishly neglect their children, or worse situations. The Church could be a source of tutoring, encouragement and most importantly, relationships that exemplify the true love only found in Christ for each of these children.
We’re told the unfortunate truth that “[we] will always have the poor among [us]” (Matt. 26:11 NLT). But Christ showed us an example of battling it anyway to show that He is empathetic
to each soul and will one day be victorious in defeating
the consequences of the Fall. Aiding students in their efforts
to break their families’ cycles of poverty and sin will spread
the Good News not only to the students helped, but to their families present and future.
Bailey Payne is a sophomore majoring in philosophy and intercultural studies. She can be reached at PayneB@jbu.edu