By CANDACE ROBINS
To many outsiders, Jackson is known for its high crime rates, embattled politicians and ongoing water crisis. To me, someone who loves Jackson, it is home.
My siblings and I were born and nurtured in the West Jackson community, a community that took pride in their homes and being good neighbors. We attended Jackson Public Schools and received academic instruction from teachers who loved and cared about us. I went on to receive a biology degree from Jackson State University.
God graciously placed me in a home with Christian parents, and we attended Mt. Wade Missionary Baptist Church, located in the Georgetown community of Jackson. My pastor was my grandfather, the late Rev. Clevie Snell. Under his leadership, our church was devoted to supporting local and world missions. It was not until I became an adult that I discovered how the lasting impact of serving communities would become my life’s work.
Additionally, I credit other nonprofit organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club on Capitol Street, Operation Shoestring, and the Perkins Foundation, for cultivating my passion for service. Pioneer Ministries has equipped youth to serve Christ in their communities for 75 years and sharpened my skills as well, empowering me from the time I was a 7-year-old at Camp Pioneer to when I served as a camp counselor during my college years.
As the director of programs at Jackson Leadership Foundation, I have the opportunity to support, empower and equip ministry leaders who are developing and maturing in their calling. The demands of ministry leaders are overwhelming, and we seek to provide the support and resources that each leader needs to grow their organization so they’re able to serve more people. We work with ministry leaders who are addressing a variety of issues, from unemployment to education, crime and more.
As I approach my third anniversary at JLF, I reflect on the growth I’ve seen in some of our ministry partners. One of the leaders we serve had a desire to go from part-time to full time in their ministry. This leader is now full time, with an operating staff. JLF does not take the credit for this transformation and growth, but we have provided capacity-building support and we celebrate their ministry growth with them.
Churches, schools, businesses, government agencies and faith-based nonprofits are working together like never before. I get a front-row seat to see the Lord using His people to help further His kingdom. In a society so divided by politics, denominations, race, etc., the Lord is using Jackson, a city of ill repute, to unify leaders all over the city.
In a recent JLF staff meeting, a coworker exclaimed, “It’s harvest time!” No matter how powerful Satan seems to have grown, suffering ripens people for hearing and receiving the gospel. At JLF, we are doing our small part of supporting our co-laborers in enhancing the kingdom.
Candace has served as a ministry leader in the Jackson area for more than 15 years. At Jackson Leadership Foundation, she helps connect community leaders with the support and resources needed to thrive. Candace also serves as assistant music director at Redeemer Church alongside her husband, Symeon. They are the proud parents of Nylah, Zeek, Brayden, and Christen Grace.