Our nation was recently shattered by the shooting deaths in Connecticut. Our hearts grieve with the families that lost their 1st graders and the brave adults that tried to protect them. These days hurt and tragedy are more common than peace and joy. Our publication “Be Encouraged!” is written every month with the main objective: to encourage. So as you prepare for the holidays and make plans for 2013, take a minute and say thank you, I love you and sincerely encourage those around you that things do get better! Kira McConico is the publisher of “Be Encouraged” Comments, suggestions and letters can be sent to email@example.com
This month’s feature Undercover Encourager is a strong woman of integrity and perseverance, Ruby Bowden. Having attended church together for years, I remember the first time I really met Ruby. She worked at a group home for teen moms and their babies. It was clear during our visit there that she genuinely loved her work. She is fully committed to encouraging youth who may be displaced or in a difficult living situation. Ruby’s compassion flows from a personal place with a powerful testimony of overcoming. She continues to live her life out loud and unashamedly touching those often forgotten or pushed aside. Ruby Bowden continues to serve in her community with compassion against all odds! Ruby not only beat the system, but she is creating a new one for generations to come! Be Encouraged!
Compassion and passion are very different. I define compassion as identifying a need and using your personal ability to met that need. Christ is the ultimate example of compassion. Some are using Christ’s ability working through them to demonstrate compassion on earth. Knowing that we don’t have to go across the ocean to do missionary work is encouraging and for many a relief. There is unmet need right here in our cities, neighborhoods and on our blocks. Knowing that everyone can extend compassion is even more relieving because need knows no title or status. It just is. It is easy to point the finger at the wealthy as those who should be giving the most. But sometimes compassion is exercised against all odds. Compassion can flow from those who come from tragic stories of abuse or neglect. It can flow from the least likely source, a source that endured a horrific upbringing but decides to give instead of harbor un forgiveness. This kind of compassion is usually the most sincere and genuine. We should all be challenged to research an organization and give of our time, talent or income to further their cause. Compassion can be shown in many ways, crying and comforting with those hurting, helping out a neighbor you know is struggling, picking up the tab for a senior citizen, or simply running to the aid of a child who has fallen. Extreme compassion extends beyond the normal desire to help. It requires us to get ‘besides ourselves’ and reach out and into a taboo area. This type of compassion may feel uncomfortable and change up your normal routine of a comfortable lifestyle. Mark 6:34 says, “And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.” Jesus was moved with compassion. He saw a need and acted with compassion to meet it with His ability. This is our example. Extreme compassion against all odds; moving out of our comfort zones to affect someone else in a positive way.
Research your top three choices: look for things like their mission statement, vision statement and
make sure that it lines up with your personal convictions. It is hard to extend compassion to something that you don’t agree with. Choose which one you will give your time to, which one you will give a portion of your income to, and which one you can lend your talents to. This may be one or all three.
Get your family involved: Share your compassion with others and encourage them to serve in some capacity.
Start your own organization: If there is no one out there addressing an area need after you research,
start your own organization. Develop a non-profit and be moved with compassion.
Be Encouraged! Your compassion can change the lives of many. Don’t think that the little you do won’t help. Do you part so someone else can do theirs!
Ruby Bowden is the founder and CEO of Rakeya’s Place. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Ruby was once homeless as a teenager and a victim of abuse. She gave her life to Christ at a young age and put her trust in Him to turn her life around. Understanding firsthand the spiritual, mental, and emotional needs of young girls with no hope, Ruby had a strong passion to mentor them. God placed in her heart a burning desire to provide a Christian home for hurting troubled girls. Rakeya’s Place is that sanctuary, and it has been serving the young women of Kansas City since 2007. In addition to Rakeya’s Place, Ruby founded Agape Enspired Me (AEM). The mission of AEM is to simply share the love of God. Once a month, AEM goes into a group home, for girls, to provide encouragement and to let them know they are special and don’t have to sell themselves or do anything demeaning to get love – all they have to do is receive God’s love. The Kansas City community has benefited from Ruby’s past service as a board member of the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council; as co-chair for the Ivanhoe Youth Committee; and as the Board President of the Habitat Home Owners Association. Ruby is the proud mother of three children. She continues to work passionately and diligently to build a foundation of principles for young girls that will be a lifelong guide for successful living.
BE: 1. Tell us about the mission of Rakeya's
Place and who Rakeya is.
RB: The mission of Rakeya’s place is to provide a Christian home for hurting troubled girls. We are dedicated to holistic development and building a foundation of principles that will be a lifelong guide for successful living. Rakeya's Place seeks to serve girls who are placed at risk through abuse, social difficulties, academic struggles, victimization, and unhealthy relationships. The name Rakeya is very special to me. It is my daughter’s name.
BE: When you started Rakeya's Place how much
of the healing process had you been through personally? What do you attribute your emotional healing to?
RB: When I started Rakeya’s Place I believe I was 99% healed from being a victim of abuse in my childhood. I attribute my healing to having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Through my relationship with Him, and with His unconditional love, I was able to forgive the people that brought the abuse and caused the hurt. But, forgiveness is not easy if you don’t understand it. Forgiveness is not for the person that hurt you. Forgiveness is for you so that you can move on and lead a healthy and productive life. When I began seeking help for my own unhappiness, I heard a still small voice telling me to forgive the most painful people of my pass. I will say God is still continuing to heal me only because I continue to ask.
BE: Youth that are dealing with self esteem and
appearance issues is a constant in society. How does Agape Enspires Me make a lasting impact on the youth dealing with these issues?
RB: Agape Enspired Me inspires youth by being real and just loving them. Some enhancements are made to their outer appearance, but our main focus is on the child and their purpose. AEM looks at the child as an individual and listens with keen ears and eyes. We look for the cause of their lost identity and the area that needs to be nurtured for them to move forward in life with purpose and hope. At each meeting, the volunteers speak strength and encouragement to the young girls to revive their dreams and their hopes. BE: What is next for the future of Agape Enspires Me and how can people volunteer to serve? RB: Our hope is to build a bigger support team of volunteers so that we can reach out to more homes and agencies. Our desire is to stay in each home for a year so that we can focus directly on what is needed to nurture and produce continued healthy growth in the children. We would love to have more volunteers, especially ones that have a true passion for youth and will enhance their growth. A background check is required along with two letters of recommendations. Applications can be obtained upon request.
BE: What is the common thread that you see among youth facing self esteem issues? Where does it start in their lives? RB: The common thread I see among youth facing self-esteem issues today is that they really donâ€™t know who they are. I believe this is because some parents are not parenting these days. Back in the day, families lived in the same community. But, as families have moved away from one another, support systems have been broken down. And some children have no one there to love, encourage, and support them. I believe that self-esteem starts at a very young age and is built-on and molded through the years until a child is strong enough to stand on his own principals because they know their identity. But we donâ€™t just leave them their own. We need to provide continued and on-going love and support.
For more information on Rakeyaâ€™s House and Agape Enspired Me: email Ruby at: firstname.lastname@example.org
BE: You have overcome great odds to achieve success. What words of encouragement would you give to someone else who has an assignment yet unfulfilled? RB: Never give up on what God has place in your heart. Remember that the different seasons in your life are there to prepare and propel you into what God has planned for you. The scripture I stand on is Habakkuk 2:2-3. Also continue to share your vision with others that will encourage and support you. Later, they will remind you and help keep your fire lit.
Kira McConico’s universal assignment is to deliver encouragement to the hopeless through her Assigned To Encourage! ™ Words are powerful and can be spoken into dark times and bring light to life's situations. In addition, Kira is an inspirational speaker. Her target audience is young women ages 17-30. She frequently speaks at area schools, domestic violence shelters and other organizations to encourage young women to pursue their dreams no matter their past. While her target audience is young women, the message of encouragement is for everyone! For booking information visit: www.assignedtoencourage.com.
All written materials are the original work of the author. Copyright restricted. All rights reserved. Scripture is taken from the Holy Bible various versions.
Be Encouraged is a publication of Assigned to Encourage!™ Design and layout provided courtesy of Integrity Designs