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From ashes to education

Right now Demetrius Foy is moving into his dorm room at Birmingham Southern.

However the situation may have panned out differently had his church home had not been caught in the rapture of February’s church fires.

In October, Foy answered the call to become a minister at Spring Valley Baptist Church.

In November, he and his pastor planned his initial sermon.

“It’s not hard being a young minister. It’s actually easier knowing I had the backup that I did, but there were difficult times,” Foy said. “I just say ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God.’ He already has a plan so it’s up to us to stay on the right track.”

But after a mere four months of relaying the Word of God to youth to he congregation, Foy learned three arsonists had set fire to his place of worship.

“The first thing I did was think of the glass as half full because I am an optimist,” the Gainesville resident said about hearing the news on February 7. “I just kept reading the passage that all things work together for good. I read that over and over. I knew it would be something better coming for the community, but I didn’t think anything would come to me personally.”

The opportunity presented itself when pastor Glenn Harris initially turned down a rebuilding offer from Birmingham Southern.

“When the church fires happened we started forming different teams. A group was working with Spring Valley and talked with Rev. Harris. He told them the church had insurance and could pay for the damages, but that he had two ministers who wanted to go to school and were interested in religion,” Birmingham Southern associate director of admission Tyler Peterson said. “He did initially say instead of giving the money to the church, he wanted us to use it for the young men to go to school…But we were able to give the church money and put together a financial package for Demetrius.”

With the motivation of numerous merit scholarships and grants, Foy put his first choice, the University of Alabama, on the backburner to attend Birmingham Southern this fall.

“It wasn’t my first choice. I was headed toward UA, but they said they would do everything they could to get me in and they did,” Foy, 18, said. “I will major in religion and maybe do a double major with psychology.”

Foy said he already had his mind made up to live on campus – although he was moving to a city completely opposite his Sumter County town.

“Coming here will be beneficial in a few ways. Coming to a larger urban area will benefit Demetrius,” Peterson said, “and he will bring things to the student body that other students can’t. He’s a super nice guy and I am sure that he will do well here.”

“I’m pretty excited and I’m in a hurry to get away,” Foy said, “I’ve always been in love with the big city.”