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Local Outreach Partner Spotlight: Rise Up!

Recently, our youngest daughter had a “new” friend spend the night. I will refer to her as “J.” Even though we do not remember meeting her, she and Nae have been in classes together since kindergarten.

The next day her mom came to pick her up and as we were talking, I felt like I had met both of them sometime in my life, but just couldn’t place where.

A few weeks go by and she spends the weekend with us again. I still couldn’t put my finger on it as to what was familiar about her, but there was something.

On her way home she sends me a text and says, “My Mom said to tell you that you know my Dad.”

I quickly responded, “Who?”

She texts: “Charlie.”

I went through hundreds of names and faces of kids we have had in Rise Up over the past 25 years, and the only Charlie I could think of was “Our Charlie…”

So, I text back “Charlie R.?”

“Yes,” she responded

I sat there speechless, processing this news.

Michael walks in and I immediately tell him the news and he is stunned, and then says, “Oh my goodness, Charlie WAS one of my most favorite kids I’ve ever had. I loved him so much!” I text her exactly what Michael had said and relayed to her how much we loved her dad.


Then she texts, “Yeah, that’s how my mom remembers you all.”

You see, Charlie was a young man who was suddenly killed by a family member on Thanksgiving weekend in 2008. I will never forget getting the shocking news of his death and then days later, attending his funeral.

Charlie was from one of the roughest families in our city, full of potential, contagious smile and loved being a part of Rise Up!. Here at Rise Up! he had opportunities to play ball, be in a small group, and go to Christian camps where he accepted Christ. We even had the opportunity to baptize him. He talked about returning to Kids Across America Camp to be a counselor one day.

Charlie never got to be a camp counselor or watch his daughter grow into the beautiful young lady she is.

Only God could script a story like this. Only God could bring Charlie’s daughter into our home unbeknownst to us.


Oh how we have stories to tell.

Beautiful ones.

Sad ones.

Stories still being written.

Rise up with us as we inspire, influence and impact kids to rise up from where they are and make a difference!

Sherry Marion

Mike and Sherry Marion head up Rise Up!, one of our local outreach partners. Rise Up! seeks to inspire kids in Johnson City to be relationally successful and break their cycle of poverty. To learn more about Rise Up! and ways to support or serve their ministry, visit or stop by their table in the café this Labor Day weekend to speak with them.


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