Hi, my name is Ebony Bright, and I am the new Student Minister here at New Life. Let me give a little background on where I came from and why I am so passionate about teens
I am a 2016 graduate from Cincinnati Christian University in Cincinnati, Ohio. There, I majored in Business: Sports Management with a minor in Youth Ministry. I am originally from a small country town in good ol’ Kentucky called Liberty. My biological mother was incarcerated when I was born, so I was raised in a Christian children’s home called the Galilean Home. You can read more about that here http://www.galileanhome.org/ if you would like.
Growing up in a children’s home was different, yet eye-opening and fun. For starters, I am the youngest of over 30 siblings from all walks of life. I have siblings from third-world countries, siblings who are mentally and physically handicapped, and siblings whose mothers were in prison just like mine. I have nephews and nieces older or the same age as me, and let’s face it—there is never a quiet moment at my house. My life growing up was definitely crazy and chaotic, but I wouldn’t change it for anything, because it made me who I am today.
How does Jesus fit in?
Like I said, I grew up in a Christian home, so the Jesus thing was second nature to me. I had a Christian family, went to a private Christian school, and was extremely involved in our church. I was baptized at the age of nine and became that annoying kid who knew all the answers to the Sunday school questions and could recite all the memory verses like they were nothing. I loved learning about the Bible and how God wanted to be in a relationship with me. I wanted to spend all my time memorizing verses and going to church. That was until the summer of 2007.
June 18th, 2007, was one of the worse days of my life. That morning I was told by my brother-in-law that we had to head to the hospital because the doctors had called and said that the family needed to come in. I was twelve at the time and I couldn’t come to grips with what was happening. It felt like a bad dream. You see, my mom, Sandy Tucker (co-founder of the Children’s Home) was losing her battle to cancer, and around 15-20 of us crowded into the hospital room that day to say our goodbyes. I honestly was in a daze, but I remember thinking, how could the God I loved and was so excited to learn about take the only mother I ever had/knew away from me? It was then that I lost it. I lost the passion and desire to be in a relationship with God. I mean, what was the point in loving a God who would hurt me like this?
That was one of the many questions I couldn’t find an answer to. For four years I went through the motions of going to church, slowly becoming uninvolved in youth group, and in school … well, detention became my best friend. For four years I completely shut God out and lived my life for myself, with little regard for the feelings and lives of the people around me. It wasn’t until the summer before my senior year of high school that I finally started looking into a relationship with God again. Once my senior year started, I talked with my youth minister about a future after high school. It was then that I decided to go to Cincinnati Christian University (CCU) to play volleyball and get a college education.
My four years in Cincinnati truly changed my life! I grew in ways I didn’t think were possible, found lifelong friends, and most importantly rebuilt my relationship with Christ. It was through CCU that I found New Life. One of our graduation requirements was to complete an internship program during the summer or one semester. After looking over postings on my school website, I decided at the beginning of my junior year to contact Tom Pounder about coming to intern at New Life that following summer.
Sports and ministry have always been a huge part of my life, so I figured New Life sounded like a fun place to work. I wasn’t wrong, and after completing my three-month summer internship back in the summer of 2015, I left Northern Virginia motivated and ready to see where God would use me. Little did I know where my six-month commitment to return for the summer of 2016 would lead! It gave me the opportunity to be the summer Intern Director and Student Ministry Resident, which transitioned into a full-time student minister position, where I would work alongside Tom Pounder here at the Chantilly Campus.
Life after graduation has been full of some crazy ups and downs, like totaling my car my first week back and moving nine hours away from my family—to name just a few. But I am ready to see where God will challenge and grow me as I step out in faith. New Life has been such a blessing in my life, and I look forward to officially calling this place home. Looking toward the New Year, I am most excited about the relationships I will build with the students and their parents, the whole student ministry growing as a family, to work alongside the amazing group of volunteers we have, and for the changes that will occur to make this ministry better. Calm down—change isn’t always a bad thing, as Prince Philip of England once said: “Change does not change tradition. It strengthens it. Change is a challenge and an opportunity, not a threat.”
In my time at New Life so far, I have already seen the potential of this ministry. God is going to do some amazing things in and through the students and leaders here. I’ll end with this: Big things are in store, not just for next chapter in my life, but for the next chapter of New Life Student Ministry. Be on the lookout for us!