This is the fourth post in the introductory series.

a quarter of a century and I still have my hope” –eric peters

My name’s Allison Redd and I’m 25 years old. My parents still live in the house where I was raised, located on the banks of a creek in a tiny southeast Alabama town. An only child, I attended public school with the same group of folks from kindergarten until my senior year. My parents instilled in me a desire for higher education: it was never a question of if, just where. I am forever grateful for their guidance: at their prodding, I attended Birmingham-Southern College on a tuition scholarship, where I developed an interest in roadtrips, Reformed theology, and midnight breakfasts. Upon graduation, I left BSC with a greater passion for service-oriented life, a heart for revitalizing urban communities, a much longer books-to-read list, a better appreciation for liturgy and the church year, and a degree: a B.A. in English with a minor in art.

On one particular college roadtrip to see a particular musician, I met my fantastic husband, Gaines, who also hails from the heart of Dixie but stayed in Atlanta after graduating from Georgia Tech. After a two-year long-distance relationship, Gaines and I celebrated the first day of our marriage on August 10th, 2002.

We live in an international apartment complex in northeast Atlanta; our neighbors hail from places like Mexico, Venezuela, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, China, and Korea. For the past three years, we have been part of a ministry called Apartment Life, which seeks to build community and share Christ in urban multi-family homes. Our time requires a mingling of event planning and ministry; this unique vision stems from the desire to connect the local church with apartment complexes so that both benefit. Though we will soon take a sabbatical from our CARES Team duties, we plan to stay in the same apartment and continue developing the friendships we’ve made. I know the kids will keep knocking on our door for popsicles, and I’ll probably teach another ESL class in the evenings if I have time.

I went to college seeking Christian community–and I found it. I also discovered a yearning to be part of God’s transformation of the world. It had not occurred to me before that He sees fit to use us as agents in His redemption of the earth, that all callings are sacred for those in Christ. It took a few extra years for me to discover that my role, for the present, is to be a teacher. On August 7th, I will graduate from Georgia State University with a M.Ed. in English education. A week later, I’ll introduce students to the joy of reading excellent literature as I begin teaching 9th-10th grade English at a public charter school near our home. I love working with international students, and hope to garner an additional TESOL endorsement (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) in the next few years.

Higher education is not for everyone, I know. However, I also know that as a wife, daughter, sister-in-law, and (hopefully) mother, my life and the lives of those around me will be enriched because of my years as a professional student. My experiences on the hilltop in Birmingham and among the highrises of Atlanta cultivated in me a wealth of diligence, patience, endurance, and joy that I would not have otherwise. The fact that my parents (and my husband) sacrificed in order to grant me those opportunities makes this blessing that much sweeter. Their support has sustained me through the plethora of papers, projects, and practicums required over the past year and a half, and when I one day see my students walk across a stage to receive their diploma, I will know the effort was not in vain.