True success story
As my pastor, Don Chandler, often says “It is important to keep the text in the context.” This simply means that we are able to correctly interpret a particular passage of scripture if we know the author, understand the times, conditions and circumstances for when it was written, and know to whom it was written.
This is my heartfelt desire as I share something that is very important with you today. Now to the context: Back in 1980, I began a daily radio program and have written more than 1,400 radio programs. In 1995, I began a weekly newspaper column and have now written more than
1,200 of these. Please understand that I say this to the Glory of God and never to boast.
Now to the text: The reason I share this is because in all of my writing I have never before singled out a high school student to say that he is a true success. I want to do that today, because there is a young man here in my community who is very deserving of this honor. His name is JoVoni Johnson, and before sharing the details I want to make a full disclosure. Back in 2005, when he was 4 years of age and a Head Start child from a low-income, single-parent home, JoVoni received a personalized, oak bookcase and a starter set of books from our Conway Bookcase Project.
Fast forward to our project’s Awards Ceremony in 2016, where JoVoni told a story about his bookcase. He told us that as a child he would pass the bookcase with his name on it, and he decided he wanted to have some books in his bookcase. He said his mother told him the only books he could have in his bookcase were those he had read.
Later in an interview with Tammy Keith for a newspaper article, JoVoni stated that he attributes much of his academic success to a love of reading inspired by the Conway Bookcase Project. He says “I think it got me off to a jump start as far as me learning to like to learn. You learn to search for knowledge.” He remembers getting the bookcase. “I think we went to a church and I remember me thinking it was a big deal, and my mom dressed me up for it. The bookcase came with some books to get started reading, and my mom had a deal — I couldn’t put books in there till I read them. I’d read a book, put it in there; read a book, put it in there.”
Well, he continued to read, and when he came to talk to us in 2016, he was already getting scholarship offers from colleges because of his grades. He was also the backup quarterback for the Conway Wampus Cat football team.
JoVoni has grown to be an outstanding young man. He is a senior in high school with a 4.21 grade-point average, an ACT score of 34, president of the senior class, and one of only seven in the county to be named as a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. He is also starting quarterback for the football team, leading them to a record of 10-3, winning one game in the playoffs, in our state’s highest classification.
Now, you can see why we are all so proud of him and how he has become a “poster child” for our bookcase project. What makes me feel so good about him and why I consider him a true success is that, while he is a great athlete, if he gets hurt and can’t play football down the road, his academic success will carry him anywhere he wants to go for the rest of his life! He says he wants to major in economics and minor in history.
Now for the conclusion: When we started our bookcase project back in 2005, we had a vision that we could help preschool children being reared in low-income homes by inspiring them to read, and keep reading until they charted a course that would change their lives forever. There are children like JoVoni all across America waiting for us to help them. Please join us.