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Tiffany Christian — Making a Difference Across the World
by Melissa Caddell
Tiffany Christian has seen firsthand how moms create influence across the world — from her experience at MOPS, to her work with young adults and her humanitarian efforts in Africa. She has discovered that moms all need the same things — connection and guidance. And that’s what she found when she attended her first MOPS group.
As an older mom who is black and works full-time, she felt so different from the other moms, but longed to connect with them. The women at her MOPS group reached out to her and made a profound heart connection that showed her how strong an influence mothers can have on each other’s lives. She saw the influence again when she attended her first MOPS Convention and also when she visited Africa and held a Ugandan mother’s baby. Moms make a difference, wherever and whoever they are.
Tiffany has served her MOPS group as a Discussion Group Leader and is a Teen Council Coordinator. She is a professor of social work at Appalachia State University (ASU) in Boone, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Raymond, and their four children; daughters Rayanna (12), 4 year-old twins Rayna and Raylen and son, RJ (11).
I’m just a mom.” Too often, Dr. Tiffany Christian hears women say this, but she believes that being a mom is how she — and all moms — connect best with the world. Whether it’s changing a diaper or helping to build a home in East Africa, Tiffany says, “I’m a mommy first, in everything I do.”
Finding herself mothering a group of college kids in the wilds of Africa with four little ones at home was a bit of a surprise to her, though. “I always knew I wanted to volunteer internationally, but I thought it would be later, when my kids were grown.” A speaker who came to her class changed all that when he spoke right to her heart.
“I was drawn by his passion for changing the way people lived from the ground up — working with mothers and children.” It snapped her life experiences into place — her passion for youth, her connection with mothers and a certainty that God had appointed all the pieces of her life to come together.
She knew she had to go to Uganda and participate in the vision of transforming lives from a grassroots level and to share that with her students. In a flurry of details she had never thought about before — university policy, paperwork and financing — she managed to take her first trip just months later, in the spring of 2008.
She returns to Uganda this May with a student group and her 12-year-old daughter, Rayanna. This will be Rayanna’s second trip. Watching her daughter connect with the world has been rewarding. Tiffany believes she has a responsibility to model how to interact with the rest of the world and has been very intentional about making sure her kids are aware of their place in it.
“God equips all of us differently and doesn’t intend for us to raise our kids in a vacuum. Let other people speak into the lives of your children,” Tiffany says. She influences the children of her friends, just as they influence her children through their experiences.
Through her family, her students, MOPS and Africa, Tiffany says, “Being a mom is the strongest influence I have, even when it’s not with my own children.” From a woman who impacts her local and global community as she raises her children, that’s a significant statement. For more information about Tiffany’s work in Uganda, go to youth4uganda.com.
Melissa Caddell writes regularly for Examiner.com. She lives in the Denver area with her three daughters (10, 7 and 3) and husband, Casey. Follow her at: melissacaddell.com.