City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Messy Ministry

Real Talk with Huntsville Learning Center's April Boddie

"I am convinced that the quest for perfection keeps people from feeling real connection," April Boddie says as we sit down for coffee. "Life is messy. Faith is messy. It's the mess that makes you whole." One is immediately drawn to her boldness and openness with her words. Without reservation she speaks about her own life, its ups and downs and how her faith has brought her through it all. Boddie ministers to at-risk youth at the Huntsville Learning Center; she is a trusted advocate and steadfast servant to her students. "These kids are not being heard, so I tell them You can ask me anything. Anything," Boddie continues, "And sometimes I don't know the answers and then we google it, but I give them the space to be open."

Children not having space to talk and be heard is a passion point for Boddie. She frequently asks questions and in response hears, No one has ever asked me that. "When I ask a child or a friend How are you? I want to know How is your heart?" Boddie reflects, "We build bigger houses with smaller porches. We used to have big porches where family would gather. We used to have Sunday night suppers where I would be around my grandmother, my aunties, my uncles - people I could converse with and ask questions that weren't my parents. These kids do not have that." Boddie wants to be that person who helps others grow. "I want to have enough food on the table to share and I want to be someone you can sit with in the belly of your burden."

Boddie knows so many people who live on the surface, "I drown in shallow waters. I want to go deep, I want to hear what your troubles are." She recalls it was often grandmothers who would provide that 'safe place' for children to talk and unload. Now with families living apart and broken relationships, fewer children have those connections with their elders. Boddie jokingly says, "Now grandma wants to be 'glam-ma' instead of baking cookies and letting kids pile all over them. There's nothing wrong with being a grandma, being a grandma is awesome."

Showing love without prejudice and bias is paramount to Boddie's calling. Though she wholeheartedly admits, "My patience has evolved, but I still need God's grace often."

Prayer is another part of Boddie's daily routine. "It is the privilege of prayer that leaves me in awe. That I can have a conversation, express my fears, offer praise, and be sobby and open. A conversation that is confidential in which I can be my most vulnerable." In a world where her students are overstimulated, she encourages the stillness prayer offers. "You cannot feel deep connection unless you still your mind. We are always doing so much, we have got to park it sometimes and still our minds." 

When asked about her legacy, Boddie shares, "When I ponder the gifts I have been blessed with, I fear there will not be enough time to execute all of my callings. On those days I remind myself that it is in the hands of the Creator. Most days I feel no fear."

If you are interested in learning more about Huntsville Learning Center, visit or call 256.536.4400.