Since the beginning of October when I started my second month working at the Howard Karagheusian Commemorative Corporation (HKCC), I ended up everyday spending my commuting time between home and HKCC, praising God that there is a center that dedicates time and space to Armenian drop-out teenagers to keep them safe and out of the streets. Then, I realized that what we, as a team, were doing in HKCC was more than just a job, and that I was given more than just a position in a center. I realized that we were serving, and I was positioned by God to serve with the group of servants who were already there before I came.
When I first came to this conclusion, I thought to myself that I should definitely write about our service in HKCC; further, I suddenly had this interest to find out what God himself says about it, but before I come to the verses, let me introduce you to what we do in HKCC. With its many departments: medical, social, and educational, I will only speak about the educational department where I serve.
In our department, so far twenty two drop-out students of ages varying from 12 to 23 years old attend the center every day from 8:30 A.M. to 1:30 P.M. where they learn English, Armenian, Arabic, arithmetic skills, computer skills, cooking, hygiene, and nutrition , plus they have counseling hours. One of our many goals is leading these kids back to school, and if not successful, giving them the basic skills they need to have a decent future, and nurturing their needs. Above all, we aim for creating a psychologically, physically, emotionally, intellectually, and morally safe environment to keep them out of the streets and away from the sources of any kinds of risks they might encounter.
Spending time with these teens and realizing that we, as teachers and leaders in HKCC, are the only hope these kids have left to: make a change in their lives, help them see that they are worth much more than what they think of themselves, and help them believe that yes, they can be better, all these have helped me realize that we are serving them and therefore serving God Himself, for the Bible says: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of those who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Mathew 25:40).
Furthermore, even while thinking of the purpose of our mission, spending time with these teens is not as easy as it seems, neither is attempting any kind of teaching or education. We literally have teens who have repeated the same class for three times, others who have been in and out of boarding schools, and another who has been expelled from at least three schools. In addition, every one of these precious teens has a case; one has divorced parents, few have a deceased parent (mother or father), few are at risk of attempting suicide, and the list goes on and on…
Though sometimes we get, or better yet they drive us, nervous, angry, lost, upset, confused, and in extreme cases hopeless, and sleepless, I have found, like the song says “love in a hopeless place”. The amount of love and care that my workmates have for these teens can help me understand what Saint Paul meant by saying in Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it
with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men”. And as if this overflow of love has infected me (positively) to have and share the same amount of love and care for these kids.
Even more, when I first decided to shift my job from being a full time teacher working till 2:30 P.M. to being a full time staff at HKCC working till 6:00 P.M., those close to me mocked me and thought I was partially crazy or perhaps unintelligent or not wise, but my reply to everybody who thinks like that comes from the book of Hebrews 13:16, that says: “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased”. I guess, all I can say now is that I should be, and am, thankful to God every day that He has given me the chance to do ‘good’ and ‘share’ through HKCC.
To conclude, I would like to share two quotes from two great pioneers in their domains. These two quotes can summarize all the work, the “what”s and the “why”s of our service in HKCC. The first is by Saint Thomas Aquinas, who said “To love is to will the good of another”. And the second, by Mother Theresa who said “We can do no great things, only small things with great love” and that’s what we do in HKCC, small things, just the musts, but with great love!