“If two of our greatest challenges in this country are immigration and health care, then we’re a microcosm of that in this building.”
View the photo gallery of Gaston Christian Center.
Watch the interview with Karen Baptist Church pastor Hsa Twel and Wallace Yay at Gaston Christian Center.
Watch the Chin Agape Baptist Church congregational singing at Gaston Christian Center.
View the Karen Baptist Church children’s choir singing in their native language
“If you come and see the people, and talk with them, they don’t talk about how they’re living on less than $12,000 a year. They’re not talking about the fact that they go to bed hungry at night or that they don’t have a hospital. Their focus is on their joy and the things they do have. There is a lot of love.”
On many days, the endless work of combatting rural poverty leaves you in the dark, utterly hopeless, Frances Ford says, but as Perry County’s own begin to build it themselves, hope flickers. True asset-based community development is sluggish work, and, at times, maybe impossible work.
There is a tension you must hold in Perry County, Alabama, between strength and fragility, beauty and dismay, resilience and defeat. The moment you discount its people and cry “poverty,” Perry County bewilders you with overwhelming abundance and gratitude. The moment you discover the outright richness of life there, you must contend with the exhaustive power of poverty to steal home, health and even your next meal.
Alabama: Perry County is a series about holding a healthy tension between a perspective of scarcity and one of joy and strength. What, in all realities, appears to be extreme poverty may actually represent generations of strong, resilient families who have made a true home in Perry County.