Murray, SP staff in Richmond, Virginia, reflects on the blessing of working alongside Mrs. Addison as they engage the local school system with the holistic gospel of Christ.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners; // Isaiah 61:1
The bell rings; it's 3:40 pm at George Mason Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia, and Mrs. Addison is corralling a group of ten students to walk them over to a local community center for their weekly Taekwondo lesson. This class is not part of the normal curriculum, nor is it required for Mrs. Addison, the Communities in Schools Site Coordinator for George Mason. Mrs. Addison has been serving in this role for five years, and she is constantly going above and beyond her normal responsibilities to provide such great enrichment opportunities for the students.
For Mrs. Addison, it is simple: her faith in Jesus Christ. She believes in a holistic gospel that cares about people's spiritual state, but also about practical life circumstances such as education, health, and housing. The majority of the students at George Mason are minorities who come from low-income households. Around 75% of these students are from Mosby Court, a large public housing community in the Richmond's East End.
Mrs. Addison—motivated by her faith—decided to move into this community to minister incarnationally. While her school is not faith-based, it has been a significant platform from which she shares the gospel in word and deed in our community. As she puts it, "The Lord continues to direct my life and mission through Isaiah, chapter 61; it's my life chapter. I believe He is continually calling me to proclaim good news to the poor, and I have the great opportunity to do that in an elementary school where I live."
Our family has benefited from Mrs. Addison’s witness. She has been instrumental in our boys’ integration into George Mason last year, and their continued participation this year. As one of the very few white and middle-class families sending their children to the school, we were grateful that we had a prior friendship with Mrs. Addison so that we could lean and gain wisdom through this cross-cultural process. Our friendship, combined with many great teachers and a new, determined and engaged principal, Ms. Ferguson, we are thankful to engage in this beautiful family that is George Mason.
Investing in the community and school in this way certainly has its challenges, and there are many days where it can feel somewhat hopeless. At the same time, however, our family would agree with Mrs. Addison when she gives voice to her motivation: "If I have the opportunity to give a smile, a high-five, a hug, a ‘How ya doing today?’, I am going to do it! I know that God has called me to be salt and light, to be His hands and feet, to love and care for the widow and the orphan. It's not a sometimes; He commands it. Entering the school each day is not always easy, but I know on the other side of the door what awaits me—the opportunity to proclaim good news."