We were in a circle to begin the soccer clinic hosted by Brentwood Academy. Coach Gift Ndam introduced himself and asked us to take turns introducing ourselves. For the BA players he wanted them to indicate their position, for the PTM students just to say their name. The first soccer player from BA: “my name is Steven and I am a center midfielder.” Next to him was Marjuane, a PTM student at his first ever soccer lesson: “my name is Marjuane and I am a center midfielder”. Everyone laughed. Marjuane, a little embarrassed, boldly asked, “why are y’all laughing? Let’s just pray to God.” Those who know Marjuane will not be surprised. Marjuane is an incredible gift to PTM and this story encourages me for a few reasons.
One, Marjuane is easily influenced and quite naturally wants to be a center midfielder—not because he knows what it is, but because the volunteer he just met is one. What a powerful role our volunteers have to help shape the dreams and goals of our students. Conversely, how easily could someone with a more negative approach to life fill Marjuane’s hunger for someone to look up to.
Second, Marjuane has been around PTM enough to know that praying to God is part of our culture. Even if Marjuane was using prayer as a way to limit the embarrassment he was feeling, it’s not a bad idea to turn attention away from ourselves and on to God.
Third, Marjuane has only been at PTM since January, 2013. He is a second grader I wrote about in October of 2012 in a blog called “waiting list”. You can read it here. He was a student who was on our waiting list for several months asking every day, “can I come today”? Thankfully, in the spring of 2013 we enrolled Marjuane at the Wilson Center. Then, in the Fall of 2014, he became one of the charter members of St. Luke, our newest satellite site. Since his enrollment a year ago, Marjuane has participated in over 20 field trips, has rarely missed an afterschool program, and continues to grow in his behavior, in his academic development, and in his desire to live for God.
Marjuane has enriched my life. I am quite sure that is true for others.