The Rev. Brady Canright was tutoring a fourth-grader in math last week at the Greenwood Mentoring Center. The two worked through the word problem together, with a little help from Google, the pastor of First Baptist Church acknowledged.
But the lesson learned during the 45-minute interaction was “so much more than just about math,” Canright said.
“It was about the connection that he and I were able to make. ... Whether he remembered that math problem the next day when he went to class, or got an A on that, I got to invest and show love and show care for an important member of our community.”
That message was one Canright tried to drive home Saturday to an audience of more than 70 at the Mentoring Center’s 13th Annual Community Prayer Breakfast, held at the Leflore County Civic Center.
The Mentoring Center provides after-school tutoring and summer enrichment programs to children who live in low-income households near its operation on Avenue G.
Canright and another pastor, Bishop Milton Glass of New Green Grove Church of Faith, were the featured speakers at the breakfast.
Canright said that the “true measure” of a community is not based on its wealth, its restaurants, its recreational opportunities or even its friendliness.
Rather, he said, “it is found in how we treat people that are less fortunate, the people on the margins of society, the people who are dependent and needing help.”
He cited past empires that have disappeared because they oppressed the weak instead of trying to uplift them. He said, for example, the plagues inflicted on the Egyptians during the time of Moses were divine retribution for the pharaohs’ mistreatment of the Israelites.
“In spite of their great power, in spite of their great wealth, ... the Egyptians were found lacking because of the way that they treated the weak and the people in the margins of their society. There was not equality, there was no justice, and in spite of their riches, it came on the backs of those less fortunate. And because of that, they are no more today.”
For Greenwood, Canright suggested, a major test is how it treats its children: “Do they have access to a good education? Do they have equal opportunities to succeed? Do they have love?”
Glass said when he was composing his remarks for Saturday, he had in mind the students at the Mentoring Center, a half-dozen of whom were in attendance at the breakfast. He said, however, the message of the “broken mailbox” is pertinent to all ages.
The story goes, he said, that a man built a new house, and part of the work including the construction of a new mailbox.
The day after it was finished, the mailbox had been knocked down. The man rebuilt it.
Three days later, same thing. In fact, in the first 11 months, the man’s mailbox was knocked down 15 times, “but each time he built it back,” Glass said.
The mailbox, he said, is “the heart of the people,” and the challenge is to persevere through the mistakes we make and the setbacks life hands us.
“Sometimes we’re gong to be knocked down. Sometimes we’re gong to be hurt. Sometimes we’re going to have things to happen in our lives that just knock us flat. But we cannot leave ourselves down. We’ve got to get back up, open up our hearts, so that we can receive the wise counsel that’s coming in.”
Bill Clay, the founder of the Mentoring Center, said Saturday’s turnout again emphasized the citywide support his effort has received since its beginning.
“It shows the community is 100 percent behind the work that we do for the children.”
•Contact Tim Kalich at 581-7243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.