Pictured Left: Pastor Windell Rodgers and his pal, Giovanni
It’s a chilly December afternoon outside in Greenville’s Judson community, but inside the cafeteria of the Greater Mount Calvary Baptist Church there’s a warm hive of activity as 25 or so children bustle inside the church cafeteria after school. It’s been a busy day at Hollis Academy, their public magnet school…but they are still bursting with barely-contained energy.
After politely sitting down for a warm meal – under the watchful eye of Pastor Windell Rodgers and his two helpers – the children scatter to start their homework.
Watching Pastor Rodgers interact with the children, you quickly sense his no-nonsense approach. But it’s clear the children love him and are eager to please. One young lady shows off a picture she has colored. Another grabs her favorite book for us to read. And yet another thinks she’s going to ever-so-sweetly con me into doing her spelling homework for her. After some gentle redirection, it’s clear she knows the answers: I’m predicting an A+ spelling test in her future.
Giovanni also ambles over, a bright young man who is serving as his 2nd grade class president and recently made the A/B honor roll. Pastor Rodgers encourages each of the children to properly introduce themselves with a handshake, clear voice and eye contact.
While Pastor Rodgers doesn’t currently receive any outside financial support for this afterschool program, he is determined to meet this need in his community and sacrifices to make it available. His passion to encourage each of these young people in his neighborhood to get an education and reach their full potential fuels him, even in the face of “friendly” criticism from folks who don’t quite see the vision.
It was a gift to spend time with him and each of these children, so full of life and potential. During this Christmas season of love and giving, I hope we’ll each determine to find and support the Pastor Rodgers in each of our communities. The folks who, without recognition or resources, are working every day to grow their community, meeting real needs and changing lives in the process.
Thank you, Pastor Rodgers, for answering the call and leading the way.