Alumni Profile: Carolyn Bibbs
Posted by: DVULI | December 4, 2023
by Gerald Bell (Kansas City 2003), Staff
► ALUMNI: Carolyn Bibbs (Memphis 2004)
► ORGANIZATION: Creative Life Incorporated
► CURRENT POSITION: Founder, President/CEO
How long have you been involved in youth programs?
As a child, I was involved in youth church ministry, so I could say that I have worked with youth most of my life. In 1978, we launched Jesus Explosion, but we have since changed the name to Creative Life Incorporated (CLI).
Tell us about your youth program and how you fulfill its mission.
The mission of Creative Life Incorporated is to embrace, educate, empower, and enrich the lives of children, youth, and families in Memphis. CLI is a safe haven for more than 1,500 local children, offering educational, recreational, and life-enhancing opportunities through after-school and summer learning programs. Students also participate in summer camp and a performing arts program, where they are taught drama, music, and dance. Additionally, CLI offers a twenty-first-century STEM learning lab and a year-round nutrition program.
Why do you think God has called you to this work?
I had a praying mother who was told she would never have children. One night, she went to church, and a minister told her she would have a child within 16 years. She had two children and dedicated my brother and me to the Lord. She told both of us that we would be used by God. My mother led me to the Lord at eight years old after my church told me I was too young to receive Christ. As a child, I learned to pray and trust God. By age 19, I accepted the fact that God was calling me to ministry. I yielded to Him, and the rest is history.
What do you hope to accomplish as you serve Creative Life Incorporated?
God has given me a wonderful life. He has fulfilled every desire I have ever had for ministry. I’ve seen thousands of young people come to know Christ in a phenomenal way. Some are now pastors, evangelists, professional counselors, and upstanding leaders in the community. I have traveled abroad and throughout this country, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have found myself in settings I never would have imagined and have been honored for doing what I was called and ordained to do. I will continue to serve in every capacity I can until God says differently. Forty-five years is a long time!
What challenges have you or the organization had to overcome?
During the COVID pandemic, our program enrollment dropped to almost none. One employee asked during this time of testing our faith, “What are we going to do?” I said we will work as hard as we did when we had hundreds of kids enrolled and believe in God. Looking back over the last three years, God has brought us through many challenges. We have stood firm in our faith, believing that He has called us to minister to youth in Memphis. We have earned the right to speak Christ in the lives of our children. Thousands of youths have come, and many have gone. But because of CLI, they know Jesus.
What are you most proud of that the program has accomplished?
We moved into an old, dirty warehouse in 1999 with a vision to refurbish it and call it our home. Since that time, we have torn down walls, added new ones, and made our facility one that we love and is admired by everyone who visits. We occupy 24,000 square feet. Within our walls, we have built an auditorium that seats over 300 people. The stage has sound, lights, and technology that easily accommodates over 50 performers. There is a computer lab, offices, and a boardroom. When you walk around the building, you see technology and colorful furnishings in every classroom. The greatest part of this story is that we rented the building for three years. Then, in 2003, we signed a 30-year mortgage and paid it off in five years. Our God is faithful!
What kind of collaborative opportunities are benefiting this work?
For seven years, we conducted forums, city-wide silent marches, and silent protests throughout Memphis on behalf of families who had lost children to violence. We were joined by city officials, ministers, parents, and youth. We prayed silently and watched the stats go down on violence in our city. During this season, I was invited to the mayor’s office to meet with government officials under the Obama administration who were involved with youth and children. They visited Memphis to learn what we were doing to experience the drastic drop in violent crime. I was given the opportunity to answer questions about Creative Life’s Stop the Violence Initiative.
What can your DVULI family be praying for as you move forward?
I have worked to build a team of God-fearing employees who carry the same burden for the survival of our youth. Within the last two years, I have hired four of our college graduates to work full-time and have started interviewing to hire more this year. Our goal is to employ additional young people who have a passion for God and a desire to work in ministry. Please pray for me as I prepare to entrust the responsibilities of my job into capable hands. No, I’m not retiring just yet! I feel God is not finished using me to pray, counsel, and raise funds to further the outreach of Creative Life Incorporated.
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