Mississippi Author and Inspirational Women's Speaker, Kenya Parks, hopes to inspire and empower young women in Mississippi to move beyond life's burdens and barriers to achieve great things for their lives. Jenny Cox Holman, Lifestyle & Travel Editor for Mississippi Matters, sat down with Kenya Parks to share how Kenya turned tragedy in her life to a place of hope to reach others with Christ's message of healing and abundant love.
Kenya, tell our readers about yourself. Where did you grow up and what life experience had a defining effect on you as a child?
I am from a small town in the Mississippi Delta called Marks, Mississippi. Growing up as a child my parents divorced when I was young and that had a drastic effect on my life. I was sexually assaulted at the tender age of eight by a family member and silenced by another family. Being hurt as a child by someone who I trusted left me bitter, deprived and wounded. When hurt such as this is not addressed, it affects you mentally, physically and spiritually. Healing and forgiving only came when I shared my truth.
What was the turning point when you turned such a tragic event in your life into a source of strength, from sadness to triumph, so you could help others?
My healing began when I told my truth to myself. I lived with this pain for many years. I tried to suppress it from my memory, but the hurt showed up in other ways. I was crying out through my behavior and in my relationships, but no one heard or recognized my cry. The first step for me was penning down on paper what had happened to me. I wrote a letter to myself sharing my pain, resentment and bitterness, before exposing it to others. Secondly, after writing a letter to myself, I shared everything that had happened to me with God. Even though He already knew about it, I needed Him to hear my heart’s cry for help. I had to tell God for the first time that I was ready to be released from all the hurt of my past. It is one thing to think about it, but it is another thing when we openly admit it. Thirdly, I shared my experience with my mother. I needed to share it with someone who I knew loved and most importantly cared for me.
In your book, "Coming Back to Me: My Journey From Pain to Purpose," what do you hope to accomplish with sharing your story?
In writing my book, Coming Back to Me: My Journey from Pain to Purpose, I hoped to unfold a topic of hurt and pain that has affected so many people, but has been swept under the rug as though it didn’t matter. I wanted to show women and young girls that if by the grace of God I can stand as VICTOR and not a VICTIM then so can each of them.
Would you share your vision for the "She Matters" Girl's Empowerment Conference to be held on Saturday, September 23, in Marks, Mississippi? What do you hope to accomplish with your conference?
My vision for the "She Matters" conference is to show these girls that despite where they come from or what they have done in their past that they still matter. I want them to learn to love themselves through the eyes of their Creator. My heart's desire is for each of them to understand that we will all sin and fall short of the glory of God, but if we will just take POWER of God with us He will restore all.
What are the issues that many young women are facing in today's society, that you hope to offer a source of inspiration to overcome?
There are so many young girls who are being faced with so much in today's society such as teen pregnancy, sexual assault, bullying; I can go on and on, but I want them to understand that there is still victory on the other side of what they have gone through.
Who has been your greatest mentor or source of strength to inspire you to use your talents to help others?
The two women in my life that have been my greatest mentors are my mother and my grandmother. My mother was a teen parent and went through so much herself, but she never allowed that to defeat her. She still went on with three children and graduated from college and allowed her life accomplishment to speak for itself. My grandmother is one of the greatest examples of a woman of God that I know. She never hid the hell she went through; she shared it to show me that on the road to my purpose everything wasn’t going to be easy and that I would fall along the way, but the only thing that mattered in the end was me never giving up and remembering that GOD was bigger than anything I could ever face.
- To hear more of Kenya Park's encouraging messages of hope and to learn about her Girls Empowerment Conference, visit her Facebook page, "Living in your Truth,"