This past week, Connell Moore, an IHS college student, was placed on the President’s list at Hinds Community College for maintaining a 4.0 GPA for the entire Fall 2019 semester! To celebrate this achievement, we wanted to share Connell’s story and God’s faithfulness through his life.
Connell first got connected to In His Steps through our first sports ministry director, Joshua Jackson. Jackson was passionate about In His Steps reaching the community, so he formed a team with several kids, including Connell, from the Sawmill Quarters to play in a basketball league in Flora, MS. Josh Jackson saw that these kids had heart but no means, with many of them coming from multi-children families; through the sports ministry program at IHS, Josh was able to serve, love, disciple, and evangelize these young men and women, and he instilled a drive in them to lead and succeed in their communities.
After playing in the basketball league, In His Steps brought the kids into the Earn and Save summer program. This program allowed the young people to earn money by working hard in the IHS garden and around the campus, and it also taught them how to save a portion of their check for things like school supplies and clothes for the year. This program also allowed the young men and women to learn responsibility in their work ethic and accountability with their money. It was through this program that Connell became an integral part of In His Steps, serving with the summer sports programs and working in the garden regularly. His faith with the Lord grew during this time, and when he graduated high school, Connell knew he wanted to do something big with his life, something that would glorify God first.
Connell decided after high school to enroll in an out of state institution that promised to certify him in welding and mechanics. Even though there were many signs that this institution was less than ideal, Connell was desperate to leave Canton and start a new life for himself. He and a friend from Canton left for their first year of college, but two weeks into the first semester, the Bacons received a call from Connell saying he had to leave immediately. He was confronted by an issue that still runs rampant in our society–racial targeting. He told the Bacons that several boys in his dormitory had been consistently harassing him verbally and physically, and it had reached a point where he no longer felt comfortable at the school. His friend and roommate had already dropped out of the school for the same reasons, leaving Connell alone.
The Bacons advised him to stay with a friend who lived in Nashville for the rest of the weekend, and that they would be there on Monday to talk to the school and figure out the situation. They knew regardless of what was happening, the best way to handle the situation was to go through the proper channels of authority to get to the bottom of it.
Even through all of the uncertainty of the situation, it was clear that God was using the Bacons to intervene in Connell’s life. After scheduling meetings with the school’s security, registrar, financial aid office, Dean, and President, the Bacons arrived in Nashville to find everyone waiting for them at the school. They first discussed how Connell could be kept safe, but “after being given the run around by everyone in the room, we saw that the best option was for Connell to withdraw.” When they began the process, the school initially attempted to place the blame on Connell, intent on keeping all of the private loans Connell and his mother had signed to pay for his tuition. However, the school finally agreed to absolve the loans that had not been used, and Connell left to come back to Canton.
“It doesn’t take much for a kid who hasn’t seen much success in his life to feel like a failure,” Reverend Bacon shares, recounting this story. “When we were driving home with all of his belongings in the back of that rented van, Connell told me, “Reverend Bacon, I feel like a failure.” It broke my heart. But I told him, “Connell, you’re not a failure. This is a bump in the road, and we’re going to regroup.””
Once Connell came back to Canton, he worked with In His Steps for a year. He spent that time getting back on his feet mentally and spiritually, as well as financially. After a year of working, Mrs. Bacon asked him, “Are you ready to try again?” Connell replied, “Yes. I want to make something of myself.”
Connell enrolled again in school, but this time at Hinds Community College, just a few miles down the road from his hometown of Canton. While he began in remedial classes, he worked hard in all of his studies, and his second year at Hinds he was moved to the Honors College. As a first generation college student, Connell was excelling in everything he did and seeking out help when he knew he needed it.
Now, Connell has been placed on the President’s list for the Fall 2019 semester at Hinds for maintaining a 4.0 GPA for the entire semester, and we couldn’t be more proud of him! He will graduate in December 2020 with an Associate’s degree and dual certification in welding and pipe laying. Connell’s story shows us that when God begins something, He will faithfully sustain it until the end. As Reverend Bacon says, “I’ve seen God’s thumbprint on Connell’s life through all of it.”
Connell’s perseverance and tenacity in the face of extreme hardships inspires us at In His Steps to continue working for those like him who believe in their failure more than they believe in their worth. We know that the Lord is faithful to call those who are hurting to Him, and to show them how treasured they are through the blood of Jesus; In His Steps is grateful to be a part of Connell’s story and the many more who will be impacted by the love of Christ through this ministry.