Today we set out to see a college but by the end of the day we saw a miracle. I need to back up a bit though to tell the story. Reginald Johnson is one of the best guys you will ever meet. I met him about four years ago at the Salvation Army where he hangs out, plays basketball, refs ballgames and does just about anything Carlos Lowe, the teen director, asks him and never complains. He is a quiet leader around the Magness Potter Community Center. Everybody likes him and he’s just shy enough to barely offer a smile when someone tells him “Thank you” or complements something he’s done. But if you ask him to lead a prayer you will know something about his passion. It’s hard to get Reginald to talk about much but he comes alive when he prays to his Lord and savior Jesus Christ.
At the beginning of this school year we talked about the possibility of him using football to get into college. He is a senior linebacker at Maplewood High School and has had a goal of being the first college graduate in his family’s history. In fact, in four months he will become the first high school graduate in his family. He had a good senior year being named to the “All Metro Nashville” team while intercepting four passes, returning two of them for touchdowns, and knocking down a bunch more. Yet playing at Maplewood doesn’t give him as many opportunities to get his name out around the college coaches as it would if he were attending one of the well-known private schools.
Earlier this week he called me, excited that the coach at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee wanted him to come visit on Saturday and asked if I could drive him. He wanted to also take a couple of his friends who were also starters on his team. Knowing Reginald, if he called them “friends” they are guys of character. I told them all to be ready at 6:30 AM sharp which would give us more than enough time to get there early. This morning Reginald calls me a few minutes after six to make sure I’m up and going to be on time – they were already up and ready.
Being a NCAA division II school, Lane College could only supply half scholarships to the athletes who end up receiving offers so if any of the three got an offer today there was still the question of how could they afford the other 50% of tuition, room and board. After sitting through a bunch of meetings the president of the school shocked everyone, (including those from the college), by making a pledge that these players and parents will remember for the rest of their lives.
He made an offer that had never been made to a group of prospective Lane College students before – and just before he made it he told every Lane coach, teacher and employee in attendance that the offer could not be repeated at any other meetings. He said that every student in that auditorium who made application to Lane College and had all their paperwork in before March 1st would not have to pay a dime of their undergraduate degree. In effect, he offered every student there a full-ride scholarship.
None of the three guys had ever had a male from their families graduate from college. Today God moved and the president of this small college may have just changed their families for generations to come. God is absolutely amazing. We could not stop talking about and being in awe of God the rest of the day.