Donna's Story

Liz Powers, Partnership Coordinator

It doesn’t take a detective to uncover the evidence that we live in a world infected with the very real disease of sin. Each community bears the symptoms of this disease a little differently. In my community it takes the form of  violence, poverty, education barriers, malnutrition, anger, hopelessness- the list could go on. If I can be completely transparent for a moment, I have to admit that these realities overwhelm me at times. Although I know my Father in heaven has ultimate authority and holds the community of Lorain close to Him, the feelings of helplessness that surround reports of yet another homicide, another mass lay off, or another heroin overdose sometimes gets the best of me.

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of meeting with a neighbor who completely flipped my perspective regarding responding to brokenness here in our city. To respect her in confidentiality- we will call her Donna. Here’s her story:

As a 31 year old single mom of four kids, being overwhelmed is certainly not a foreign feeling to Donna. In the midst of balancing her children’s schedules and working third shift in a local factory, Donna has recently taken on supporting her mentally ill sister’s family of four in addition to her own. Living with nine people in a small townhouse, you may be able to imagine the feelings of helplessness, chaos, and complete exhaustion that surround Donna’s daily reality.

During our conversation, Donna recalled the recent shootings her kids witnessed outside their home in the housing projects of Lorain. As my heart began to ache for the situation my friend was describing to me, Donna’s unconventional response completely threw me for a loop. For the next half hour, instead of mourning the challenges that were just described, Donna passionately walked me through her vision and plans to one day open a youth recreation center in the city. She shared with urgency the need to create a safe place for her children and their friends to interact with one another. By the end of our conversation, Donna had even outlined a detailed action plan that would one day breathe her dream to life.

Besides being inspired to the point of tears, I was blown away by the authority and confidence with which Donna responded to her seemingly overwhelming circumstances. Just as easily, Donna could have chosen to respond in fear and keep her family on lock down, she could have chosen anger and added to the chaos around her, she could have chosen to tap out and relocate entirely. But instead, she chose to lean into the brokenness surrounding her and flip it into a solution that would benefit not only her family, but the future of Lorain.

My time with Donna challenged me in many ways, but what stuck out the most was the power she claimed in that response. The brokenness in our city, country, and world is big, and at times, convinces us we are helpless in combat. But Donna’s story is such a vivid reminder of what it looks like to take ownership of the incredible power that lives inside of us – the power that rose Jesus Christ from the dead and is certainly capable of transforming the brokenness in our communities. Donna’s dream reminds me that assuming the proper perspective has the ability to push us past the facade of fear, defeat, and helplessness that so often infiltrates the challenges surrounding us.

I eagerly await the day we get to celebrate the opening of Donna’s recreation center in Lorain. I pray that her story inspires others, as it did me, to choose to view challenges as opportunities, to walk in the confidence of the Spirit within them, and to assume the roles of solution- makers, culture-creators, and ultimately world- changers within their spheres of influence.

Next Step Ministries