Love In Action
When I walked into Trinity Presbyterian Church on the first day
of tutoring with Love in Action, there was a crowd of children
playing rambunctiously. They were of all running about,
giggling, squealing, tickling one another, and braiding each
other’s hair. A group of elementary aged girls were in the corner
dancing to their favorite pop songs, while a group of boys
were chasing each other. I was a bit nervous being surrounded
by so much energy at 10am on a Saturday morning.
The leaders of LIA led me over to one of the oldest girls in the
bunch, Dorbor, and said that the two of us would be working
together. They thought it would be rewarding and sentimental to
have us paired together for four years until we both graduated.
I was surprised by how quickly Dorbor warmed up to me.
She excitedly led me to her workspace and we immediately
jumped into her math and English homework. I remember
asking her what she wanted to be when she grew up and
she said, “I want to go to Duke to study biology.”
I was surprised by how clear her vision for the future was. When
I first heard about LIA, I was told that most of the students came
from the homes of Liberian refugees who were not used to the
American school system and needed extra help with their school
work. This was also true for Dorbor, but she was incredibly
focused on achieving her goal in a way I had not expected.
As the weeks passed, I realized that this desire for success actually
came from her parents’ heritage as refugees. Her mother had
invested time, money, and energy into her daughter’s education,
because she had never had that. I realized that tutoring Dorbor
was part of a plan that had already been set in motion.
Pieces began falling into place. Her grades in math steadily
increased. Her writing skills flourished as she sent me papers
to look over during the week. But even more surprising
was how my relationship with Dorbor developed.
Now, each week when she sees me, she hugs me. She is
happy to see me, and I am just as excited to work with her.
It is not that tenth grade math is riveting or that revisiting
topics such as allegories, rhyme, and onomatopoeia are
particularly enlightening, but that I have noticed I am actually
making a difference in her life, and she is changing my life.
Through LIA I found a friend. We are from very different
backgrounds. I am a country girl from a rural public school
in Central Pennsylvania who is studying at an Ivy League
University, and she is an inner city high school student
and a child of Liberian refugees. Yet, despite all odds, God
found a way in His divine providence to connect us.
I have no right to keep my time to myself
as it was never wholly mine, but God’s.
Although I had joined LIA from a somewhat selfish standpoint
of wanting to feel good by doing good, God had transformed
that desire into a passion for tutoring. Almost unbeknownst
to me, He had changed my heart to make me want to serve
Him by serving Dorbor. In Matthew 5:16, Christ calls us to “let
your light shine before others, so that they may see your good
works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
I had always heard Matthew 5:16 and wondered what exactly my
light is. But, from working with LIA and specifically with Dorbor,
I have realized that my light is my passion for serving the Lord.
This is a passion that the Lord gives to me and that I use in order
to give back to Him. God gave me the opportunity to work with
Dorbor, he uses her cheerful, encouraging spirit to build me up
just as He uses my education and desire to help to build her up.
Hebrews 13:16 says, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what
you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” This verse points
the focus back to God from whom all good things come. I have no
right to keep my time to myself as it was never wholly mine, but
God’s. In fact, the sacrifices we make, as mentioned in Hebrews 13,
are really just returning to God what belongs to Him. His rewards
for our sacrifices are even greater than the time, money, and energy
we give up. I have come to realize that the time God has given me
at Brown is a gift and that through this gift I must share with others,
and LIA has become an extremely rewarding way of doing just that.
Alana Felton is a sophomore concentrating in Slavic Studies.