The circumstances of our closest and nearest surroundings will have a tremendous impact on the long range hope and belief that we can and will succeed. These are the thoughts that I reflect upon daily as I drive through the community of Binghampton in Memphis, Tennessee. If our children and families always see blighted communities and hopeless surroundings, I believe it has a tendency to reproduce a spirit of hopelessness – which lends itself to a vicious cycle of generational poverty and violence. Having faced such surroundings from my own childhood, it was not until I escaped from my "immediate surroundings" by way of a school field trip that my world was forever changed. I began to see that there was a better world with better opportunities and if I would work hard and stay away from violence, I could access these opportunities and eventually help others to share in them too.
However, outward access and mobility is often limited by other forces inside and outside of our communities as well as a general sense of apathy. If we cannot get out of our communities to see a better world, I feel it is up to me and others to create a better world within our community. This is the fuel to my personal existence. I believe that we can create and bring renaissance to the inner cities throughout America through churches and other institutions that have been stakeholders throughout the years. The church in my opinion is often the sleeping giant within the context of revitalization. Through my personal mission, I hope to empower churches all throughout America and especially within her inner cities to embrace a model of inspiration which leads to activism, producing positive change!
Keith Norman has served as the Senior Servant Leader of the First Baptist Church Broad Avenue (FBCB) for the past 12 years, where he has led the church in over $10 million worth of capital improvements serving a wide range of needs from education to homeless services and community development.