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My Week With Reggie Dabbs

February 19th, 2009

I rarely detour from our focus in Proverbs, but I just wanted to share a few thoughts about my time in the public schools of Wilson County in Tennessee this week.  I’ve been accompanying a young man named Reggie Dabbs to middle and high schools as he speaks to them about life, love, and living.

Reggie is considered to be the top public school motivational speaker in the nation. Sharing through humor and tragedy, Reggie connects with students masterfully.  In many assemblies this week, I’ve seen students and teachers laugh hysterically and then weep openly as Reggie communicates a message of love and hope to them in their situation.

Our steps taken through the hallways, cafeterias, and gymnasiums have again reminded me that this generation hurts.  Searching.  Needing.  Desiring something . . . anything that is authentic.  Sometimes, reality television seems to be the closest piece of reality that they can find.  

One student who was crying after an assembly told me that Reggie was speaking directly to her and that she was reliving her story through his words.  Since Reggie’s story was about his mother sleeping with a man for twenty dollars so that she could buy food for her babies who were living with her in an abandoned chicken coop, I can only imagine what kind of horrors this young lady must have been reliving.

That’s why Reggie is so effective: he’s answered God’s call to share his pain with others in pain.  Through his willingness to relive his pain every day, others are finding hope in the One who salvaged Reggie’s life.  In the public school setting, of course Reggie can’t talk about God or religion; but it’s amazing how God speaks through Reggie’s life even when His name is left unspoken.

Last night, a room full of students gave their lives to this Life-Mender.  Tonight, we hope that another room-full will as well.  But at the heart of our mission this week and the message spoken by Reggie is that each of us have a story full of pain.  Sure, the degrees and details are different, but the singular need is the same.  

“I don’t have to know your name to know your pain.  I don’t have to see your home to know your shame.  But someone loved me just the way I am and someone loves you just they way you are.”  This is Reggie’s poem that he shares, written by himself in the ninth grade.  The idea is profoundly simple and vastly effective to communicate the truth.

You may not be Reggie, but you have a story to share as well.  You may not speak to millions of students each year on every continent of the globe, but you do have something to say.  You don’t have to see what they’re facing to love them and you don’t always have to preach to tell them about the Great Salvager.

Off to more schools I go!  Where will you go with your story today?

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