“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.
Twenty years ago, Frances Ford left her nursing career in Selma, Ala., to seek justice and development among her lifelong neighbors in Perry County. She speaks in this video about change in Perry County.
Twenty years ago, Frances Ford left her nursing career in Selma, Ala., to seek justice and development among her lifelong neighbors in Perry County. She speaks in this video about justice in Perry County.
LaQuenna Lewis serves as leader of CET ministries, a nonprofit of Eagle Grove Baptist Church and one of Sowing Seeds of Hope’s newest development partners. She speaks in this video about working in Perry County.
Willie Roy and Jennie Bell King helped build their new home in Marion through Sowing Seeds of Hope’s self-help housing initiative. They speak and sing in this video about their experience.
Relatively few ministerial candidates want to lead small country congregations. It’s understandable. Those settings require pastors to provide all the functions usually divvied up by larger church staffs: pastoral care, preaching, teaching youth and children, paying the bills and preparing budgets. But there are unexpected rewards in rural churches, say some pastors.