Page recognized for work in inner city Charlotte with Shining Light Award
Kim Chaudoin |
The Be A Light tour stopped in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Monday, Oct. 10, where more than 50 alumni, parents of students, prospective students, donors and friends gathered at the NASCAR Hall of Fame to hear the latest updates from Lipscomb University.
As President Candice McQueen has challenged the Lipscomb community to be a light, at each stop on the tour someone in that community is selected to receive the Shining Light Award to recognize someone whose life — and light — shines brightly in the community and in their service to others.
Former Bison soccer player and Lipscomb alumnus Ben Page was honored as the recipient of the Shining Light Award for the impact that he is making in Charlotte and beyond.
Page has had a prolific soccer career at both Lipscomb and in the professional ranks, but the impact Ben is leaving in the world ripples far beyond the soccer community alone.
During his four years as a member of the Lipscomb men’s soccer team from 2003-2007, Page was known for his dedicated work-ethic and ability to build strong and influential relationships with those around him. His coach, Charles Morrow, said that “Ben's infectious personality, servant leadership, approach and commitment to the game left a mark on our program that can still be felt today. As big of an impact as Ben has had on our program, it pales in comparison to the impact on the community that he works with in Charlotte, North Carolina.”
A former teammate remembers that Page “had such a positive and kind personality that it was always a great time being around him. He was friends with most people on campus, from all different backgrounds and always brought others together.”
Page graduated from Lipscomb in spring 2008 with a history education degree. After graduating from Lipscomb, Page signed a professional contract to play for the Charlotte Eagles in the United Soccer League; and while he was there, he said the Lord grew his heart for a specific community that is often overlooked in the city of Charlotte. He, along with a few teammates from the Eagles, started a soccer team in Charlotte to invest in the next generation and share a message of hope that "Jesus loves you and has a plan for your life."
Through this soccer team, relationships began to form, and Page and a few coaches decided to move into this community to have a greater impact in the lives of these kids and their families. This ministry became known as the Urban Eagles, and it was Page's heart to see this community be completely transformed by God's love.
One of his fellow Urban Eagles coaches said that, "Ben has a unique gift for connecting with people. Whether you are a young man in the program, or the homeless guy on the corner, Ben listens and then gives you raw, honest feedback. It's how he has developed the respect of an entire neighborhood."
After serving as ministry director for the Urban Eagles for eight years, Page and his wife, Nicki, co-founded I AM 24/7. I AM 24/7 is a nonprofit organization, located in the Grier Heights neighborhood in Charlotte. To give you a little context - the Grier Heights neighborhood is an area that has nearly 400% more crime than the national average. This organization uses the vehicle of sport to disciple youth to become leaders of the next generation.
Through this ministry, there are six year-round soccer and basketball teams that provide not only instruction in sport, but tutoring, Bible study, travel experiences and intentional Leadership Development nearly every week of the year for the kids involved. The staff members also live in the community to help cultivate deep relationships that are empowering, encouraging and intentional because. The goal of the I AM 24/7 movement is to see individuals from every part of our city, every area of society, from our schools to the workplace, come to a greater understanding of God’s love for them and their call to bring hope and change to our world.
In addition, Page is passionate about encouraging youth in these communities to attend college to help them see the value of an education and that they, too, can pursue this dream. A number of the youth Page worked with at Urban Eagles went to college and now work with him at I AM 24/7. The younger generation is seeing those from their own neighborhoods who once sat where they do now go college and it helps them see this is a possibility for them too. In the last five years, 15 out of 16 of the I AM 24/7 students who graduated high school are either working full time, are in college or are serving our country in the military.
Through I AM 24/7, Page is able to continue his passion for sharing the love of Jesus in practical ways, and developing leaders who give back to their communities the opportunity to thrive.
— Photos by Kristi Jones