by Mischa McCray
I think that most people can look back at a couple events in their lives and see how pivotal those moments were in forming their current life. On Tuesday, January 20, 2009, I opened an email from Teach for America that informed me that I would spend the next two years of my life teaching in the Mississippi Delta. Fast forward over 12 years later, and I can now see how that simple moment shaped the direction of my life immensely.
When I moved to Mississippi, I had no intention of ever calling it home. I figured I would work here for two years and then return back to the Midwest, somewhere closer to family and friends. I’ll never forget driving to Mississippi for the first time. I can remember driving down Highway 61 from Memphis headed to Cleveland and thinking, “There’s not a lot going on here.” At one point, my GPS tried to tell me to exit the highway in some place called “Alligator” and it wanted me to drive on some dirt road in the middle of a field. I remember thinking to myself “GPS’s don’t even work here and they have towns called Alligator! Where am I?”
Looking back, I was right where I needed to be. While some people may view themselves as the one directing the course of their lives, for many of the most pivotal moments of my life, I feel like I’ve been in the passenger seat. I didn’t choose to come to Mississippi; they just told me that’s where I would be teaching. Once I got here, I had no agency over where I would be. That didn’t matter much to me at the time, as the names of the towns being mentioned meant nothing to me. What difference is there between Indianola, Greenville, Ruleville, Helena, Cleveland, Leland, Greenwood? Those were all just names of random towns that I knew nothing about. When I found out that I would teach in Greenwood, I did what any other 22-year-old would have done: a google search to figure out where “Greenwood, Mississippi” was.
Then there’s the matter of attending Westminster. I don’t know how much I even chose that. I remember going to the house of this youngish couple and meeting a bunch of people who went to this one church at the end of Park Avenue. Some of my friends from TFA wanted to visit their church that next Sunday, so I figured I would join them. To this day, I haven’t gone to any other church in Greenwood on a Sunday morning.
About midway through my second year teaching at Greenwood High School, I knew that I didn’t want to come back for a third year, but I had no clue what I wanted to do instead. Through conversations with several people, I chose to attend Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson for their counseling program. Westminster supported me through those years, and after I graduated in 2013, you all welcomed me back and supported me as I built up my practice.
It’s been nearly eight years since I moved back to Greenwood from Jackson, but for the first time since moving here in 2009, I don’t wonder about what will be next. In those eight years, I’ve had over 400 different clients and met for thousands of hours of counseling. I’ve worked with people from Grand Boulevard and Robert E Lee extended as well as Avenue I and McLaurin St. I’ve done over 1,000 hours of pro bono counseling. And all of this because of the generosity of a church who was willing to come alongside me for this journey.
So, THANK YOU Westminster. Thank you for your support and encouragement. Thanks to all those who have dedicated time out of their lives to give me advice or help me get my name out there (Stephen, Lee, Gary, Kathryn, Richard, and Kim to name a few). Finally, thank you to all of the people who have trusted me to hear their stories and listen to them in some of their hardest moments.
It’s hard for me to truly believe that I’ve lived in Mississippi for 12 years now, but I’m so grateful that God put me here. I hope that you read this and are encouraged to see how he has worked in my life, and I look forward to many more years of working to glorify him here in our small corner of the earth.