Leohranrda “Leo” Graham’s Story

Leo grew up in a rural community outside Mandeville in central Jamaica. She was raised in a Christian home where she learned the basics about what was right and wrong, but in her own words “God was just part of my solar system, my life did not revolve around Him, it revolved around me.”

As a teenager she had an identity crisis, wondering if she had grown up in a different home if she would believe in God at all. She knew that she wanted to be a good person, but ultimately wanted to do what she wanted to do. She was invited to attend a retreat at Moorlands Camp, where she prayed; “God I want to know you,” and experienced the warmth of His presence in a new way … but very little changed in her life afterwards. She did not have anyone to walk alongside her spiritually, so even though she had had an encounter she did not grow afterwards but remained spiritually as a baby.

At University a friend asked her to attend a Bible Study, and she was very wary, but agreed to go and was fascinated to see the level of community. The people there were young, passionate, and living out their faith in a way that demonstrated God’s love. One thing that made an impression was the way people went out of their way for her and one another. She realised that she wanted this too … but also realised that she needed to put God at the centre of her solar system, rather than just continuing to do what she wanted to do. So she finally said “OK” to God, and made the decision to put Him at the centre of her life.

She then wanted to do something as an outlet for this new love that had become the centre of her life, so attended a missions event at her local church where Fusion had a booth. She learned about the work with children, and volunteered to come because she was comfortable working with children. On the first day she decided to stay on for the Youth Clubs just to see what happened … and with that many high-risk young people in one place she felt like it was one of the worst decisions she had made to stay on for the youth club that day. Afterwards however, she realised that if it was that easy to say “no” to spending time with these young people, they had probably already got a lot of “no’s” in their life. So she decided to be part of the team that showed them care and kindness, instead of more rejection, and kept coming to Kids Club and Youth Club throughout her time at University. She found it ironic that, when she began working, she could no longer volunteer with the children because of her work schedule but only with the youth.

Over time she realised that there were still some things in her life that she was holding on to, rather than fully letting God be at the centre. When Dr. Jeanne Williams came to Jamaica and did the training on working with children affected by Trauma, Leo saw what she wanted to do with her life … but she kept trying to make her own path work as the way to get there. Eventually she had an epiphany, that she had never asked God about how to get there, and prayed, asking herself; “If God gave me the opportunity to do this with my life, would I be brave enough to do it?” She decided that she would be brave enough to ask God to make her brave enough!

That same weekend David asked her; if God provided the resources, would she be willing to go into full time ministry with Fusion? She later said that her thoughts at that time were; “God I never expected you to answer so quickly!”

This is the journey she has taken to be ready to go to that next level in her faith of putting God first.

The first CPRT Training in Jamaica with Dr. Jeanne Williams