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Showing Tangible Love

PR Connection #11 – COMM 4333 and 2322

Mabel Perez was hesitant to agreeing to her daughter’s request. “Since when do you want to play basketball”, She questioned Francis who was adamant about participating.

She and her brother, Caleb wanted to play for the Little Giants basketball league but their parents were not as enthusiastic.

One-year prior, Mabel and Jerry Perez left the Puerto Rican countryside to follow their dreams of a lucrative and American lifestyle.

They felt that their three kids and themselves would benefit greatly if they left the island. This young, aspiring family settled in well and met new friends, but Mabel and Jerry did not find as much fortune, in their new home, as they hoped.

Both parents found themselves unemployed in July of 2009; this added a lot of tension and stress for the family. They knew it was important for the children to get involved in sports or friends to help them adjust to the changes.

Neighbor friends invited the children to Sunday school but Mabel was not interested in joining a church. “We are knew early on that we would need a support system, church was just an option”, explained Mabel Perez.

Jerry and Mabel decided that they would allow both older children to play basketball for the church, but they were never expecting the rest of the story to unfold. Months went by and the more their children fell in love with the “Little Giants” basketball ministry, they encouraged their parents to join them.

“My wife was beginning to discourage our children without knowing it, I couldn’t sit back and see that happen. We needed help, we needed our family to be united,” Jerry said, knowing he needed to make a change. He insisted that they take their youngest son to watch his siblings on Saturday games, and then Jerry volunteered to help coach a team.

“This was a long process in the making because I never wanted to get so involved, but my children were and that saved our lives,” Mabel and Jerry agreed. They searched for all types of groups and publics to associate with but once they met this ministry and connected with other families, they knew they were around family.

Despite Mabel’s resistance, It didn’t take long for the family to begin relating with others, and making friends who had similar situations. “This ministry allowed a young family dealing with many issues to be changed and renewed in their love and commitment,” said Pastor William Knowles. This was a blessing in itself, but there was so much more in store for them.

One Saturday afternoon the Perez children, Francis, Caleb and Joshua ran into the house after basketball practice, Francis screamed out of pure excitement. Mabel and Jerry frantically followed the scream to find all their children with wrapped presents in their hand and a renovated living room.

“A new living room, probably the most significant act of kindness for our family. They helped us in a way we would have never helped ourselves,” Jerry stated after the surprise. The ministry wanted to show this family the love of God in a tangible way; sending a hug from heaven and giving them hope for a brighter tomorrow.

This demonstrated the faithfulness of God and the willingness of those surrounding the family to care and reach out. “People might never understand what a fresh can of paint and new area rug did for my family, but it was exactly the help we needed,” Mabel described.

Fittingly, the children wrote thank you cards for all the volunteers in this endeavor and the family hosted an “end of the season” barbecue to bless their newfound family. There are few people who get blessed with friends to cherish and support to gain strength from during their hardest times.

“Sports are great examples of activities that encourage fairness, commitment, team work and dedication; all of these are important values foe them to apply,“ said Athletic Director, Jonathan Concepcion. Once the children are involved, the parents are also loved on and discipled in various ways.

Mabel and Jerry will have an everyday reminder of God’s faithfulness in their times of struggles; they just have to walk inside their living room. Continuing to grow in wisdom and statute, all the Perez children will be returning to play in their second season and Joshua, their youngest, will have to wait just one more season.

As for the ministry, they continue to bless families and play relentless basketball. Pastor Knowles always says, “as we teach the youth to play fair and fight hard, we continue to provide a healthy environment for families to find refuge.”

It is a simple goal that is being accomplished, with every mending soul.

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