Remember back to when you were in elementary or middle school. Remember what you felt like when you got home from school — for some that was positive; for others, not so much. Now, imagine hearing a knock on your door that you knew was from a college student whose sole purpose for being there was you. The college student at your door had proven his dedication to you by being there consistently week after week, maybe welcoming your family when they first moved into the neighborhood, and was always willing to try to help you through anything difficult you might be facing.
Now consider the position of the college student. With a to-do list so long that he is strongly considering buying a second planner, he knocks on the door of the kid’s house. When the door opens, the to-do list fades away. The breathless pace of his day is about to turn into a breathless laugh from playing too hard.
I have just described Lamp Light Ministries (you may know it as “Pizza Ministry”). Lamp Light Ministries joins together Harding students and a Searcy neighborhood three afternoons a week. Two days a week are dedicated to play, and the other is “homework day” during which college students tutor, answer questions and look for any other way to be helpful in students’ school lives. The ministry is run solely by student volunteers who have dedicated their time to knowing and loving the kids of that neighborhood. In turn, these kids let college students share in their fun and make sure that the gap between children and 20 year olds does not become too wide. The kids remind college students how to play and what life looks like outside the density of study.
My assessment of Harding University’s relationship with their community began with neutral expectation of what I might find. Lamp Light Ministries caught my attention because it displays a beautiful facet of community. However, what I found in Lamp Light Ministries needs celebrating. Throughout my investigation, there are sure to be less celebratory aspects to face, but for this week, let your hearts be encouraged by finding an example in Lamp Light Ministries. The beauty of the ministry comes from both the kids in the lamplight neighborhood and the college students from Harding. Both groups giving and receiving is the feature here. Some days the college students give more of themselves than the kids do, while other days the kids are the ones replenishing the college students’ spirits. The two have become a part of each other’s world. Searcy and Harding collide in a life-giving way when it comes to Lamp Light Ministries. Thank you for being an example to us all.