My name is Josh Meadows and I have the privilege of leading Neighborhood Hope (formerly known as The Abandon Project). I grew up in Asheville NC, and was raised primarily by a single mom. My dad left for Chicago when I was 7 years old. Most of my formative years were spent without a father figure around, which put me behind on the path to manhood. Given the circumstances I had a good support system as my grandparents played a huge role in my life, and they lived next door to me. I was also fortunate to have coaches who cared about me and they tried their best to fill the void left by my father. Life most kids who grew up in a single parent household, I struggled with male authority. It’s hard when discipline from a male is not first taught by your dad, rather it’s taught by a community of men who happen to not be your dad.
Sports were a huge outlet for me, and it’s where I was able to find a sense of belonging and purpose. It enabled me to have a community where I could learn discipline, teamwork, and was an outlet for my misplaced anger. Fortunately I had good coaches who would pick me up for practice and help take care of me, as my mother had 2 and sometimes 3 jobs to help take care of my sister and I.
Fast forward to 2012, where I’ll spare you some details from my college/early adult years. 2012 was when God took my pain and turned it into a purpose. I began working in communities in East Charlotte, communities that had been forgotten about, overlooked, and often stereotyped. This is the point in the story where I want to speak hope to all of you that read this.
Don’t feel as though you have to have a plan to serve and do life with people. We as people tend to want to spend time around “like minded” people, because it’s comfortable and safe, and it provides a space where we have no one challenging us. God has created us for diversity, and God has created us to learn from each other. Any relationship can grow with consistency and love. We have learned to not show up acting as if we save or change anyone, we have learned we go further with people by showing up to listen and learn. There is a scripture where God and Jesus are talking about being “one” and that we as his followers can have access to that “oneness” that they had. It makes sense to us, to simply show up in these beautiful neighborhoods with the desire to simply become family.
Yes, I’m still messy. I still have struggles. I still am in process, but i’ve decided that I want my life to be about love and impact. What’s greater than purpose? Whats greater than loving and being loved? I’m so grateful to be apart of Neighborhood Hope, as we continue to provide purpose for volunteers, and hope for these beautiful families in Charlotte. God is good, and he changes all of our narratives, and continues (if we allow) to take our pain, turning it into purpose.
I’ll leave you with my life Chapter, Isaiah 58, read it. The overview is this, when you fight for those who struggle to fight for themselves, when you feed the poor, and fight for the oppressed, cloth the naked, and feed the hungry, God says he will bring healing to YOU.
Thanks for reading a part of my story, go live a life of purpose.