Every summer my youth group goes on a two-week mission trip. The first week stays close to home, in Dallas, but for the second week we travel by bus to Chicago, Illinois. In Chicago we work at Henry H. Nash Elementary School, tutoring their summer school students in the morning and running a vacation bible school for the neighborhood kids after lunch. We tutor grades two through eight, but kids from age five to those in high school show up to play basketball, tag, or “hairdresser” in our after-school program.
One young man has been participating in this program for longer than I’ve been going on the trip. Chris is a constant presence in the schoolyard with us as we try to “bring a little piece of heaven” to the neighborhood. He started coming when he was just a little guy, and he is now exploring an opportunity that most people in his part of town don’t even get the option of… Chris is looking for a college.
Chris is a talented student with a future as bright as anyone’s with twice the resources of his. He hasn’t allowed drugs or gang violence to get in his way, nor has he let the disadvantages of his situation as an inner-city Chicago kid get him down. I’m positive that Chris will grow up to be a successful adult and an inspiration to those who aspire to become great as well.
Chris has taught me that anyone can achieve their dreams. He has worked through so much to get where he is today, not just taking the easy route to the same life his surroundings offer him. I try to remember this lesson as I go through my own life, probably accepting challenges and opportunities that I never would have considered otherwise. So far it’s gotten me to a place with more open doors for my future than I would have ever thought possible. I never discount a person’s dreams that seem improbable, because Chris proved that “improbable” is hardly a barrier if you want something bad enough. I’d like to see more kids like Chris, fighting for a future better than their present life, because I’m sure they can do it.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.