What do you think of when you think about your childhood? There are so many memories I have, most good, a few bad. I can remember the many many times I went to Lori Beth's house for sleepovers. I remember playing softball in the mud and I remember playing "duck, duck, goose" with my preschool classmates. I also remember sad things, like my cousin dying of brain cancer or the many many arguments I got into with my friends. But there are so many more good memories than bad. I remember having parents who loved me (and still do of course) but I also remember having other people around me that loved me as well and set good examples for me to follow.
So yeah, what memories do you have from your childhood?
The reason I ask you this is because of what kind of childhood my kids are living. Yesterday, I was at the park helping with our soccer team. Standing there out of the corner of my eye, I see two men sitting in a white car (right across the street from the park). The reason I noticed them was cuz I had seen these two young girls walk by our field and then as they were walking by the white car, they stopped and were talking to the men in the white car. Not even a minute or two later, a police car pulls up and proceeds to get the men out of the car and search it. A few minutes later, they were arrested and taken away. The kids, of course, saw it happen. Not all of it but they definitely saw the men getting taken out of their car. And ya know, I have no clue why the cops even stopped. I do know that at the parks around where we live, people are always dealing drugs. So maybe they assumed they were and decided to stop and check it out. The point is, the kids saw it. So often, I hear one of my kids talking about how this park got closed cuz people were selling drugs or they know this drug dealer that stands on this corner or that drug dealer that stands on that corner. Yeah, thats their memories.
As we were driving home, a 4th grader and I were talking. We were talking about how someone has been trying to kidnap kids by their school. Pretty weird, but yeah, apparently the kids are on alert to not walk anywhere by themselves. Well, the boy started talking about how this kids momma got shot and how this other kid's bro got shot and all this stuff. And then he said, and i'm not kidding this is his own words: "i'm not walking anywhere by myself, i don't know why but i just have this feeling that someone is about to get shot by our school. i just know that their is going to be a drive-by anyday now and i dont want to die yet." A fourth grader! It brings tears to my eyes as I sit here and just think back about it. This is their childhood memories. I don't know about you, but it wasn't really a thought of mine that I may get shot when I get out of school. It wasn't really a thought of mine that if I went to the park, that someone might approach me and ask if I want to buy some drugs.
Their childhood is also filled with bad things at home. Some of my kids have lost family members to violence, others have parents in jail or on drugs. Some don't go in till way after dark because their parents work late and they have nothing to go home to. Yes, some have wonderful parents, but some, some have parents that just don't care. And some, some have no parents at all so they live with grandmas or aunties. This, this is their memories.
So yeah, thats their childhood. The stories that i've heard from my kids, the stuff that they have seen, it just breaks my heart. I remember my boss telling a story, he said he was driving the bus one day and they were at a stop sign and seen this one man getting beat by a mob of guys with bats and sticks. One of the kids looks up at him and said...I have never seen that before. My boss said, I hadn't either...but then again, I was 32 and he was only 8.
Wow. I wonder, I wonder if I'm really making a difference. I think back to camp, I think back to when I would see these beautiful children come to our camp and they would be so hard and so angry. And I just didn't get it. I didn't get it because I saw them in "my element" not theirs. Now, I live in their element and I get it. I understand why so many kids become so hard and so angry. I understand it because they live in a place of hopelessness. They live in a place filled with so much sin that they can't get away from it all. Drugs, violence, these are the NORMS around here.
I have been sent here for a reason. Sometimes, I forget this and wonder why in the heck am I here? Then I realize that there is hope. There is hope because of Jesus Christ. I think back to a verse in 2 Corinthians chapter 6, Paul writes ...known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything." We have hope. In this dry and desert land, we have hope. We have hope because we have nothing, yet posses everything. We are poor yet are making many rich. This world has nothing to offer us, but Jesus Christ has everything. He came that we may have life, and have it to the full. I came to the westside of Chicago to show these kids that there is a life that is full and really living. This life is dead. I came to show them that there is hope and that they can have a life, a full life.
I can't do this without Jesus. I can't live in this place and deal with the stuff I see on a daily basis without my Lord giving me strength and showing me that there is hope.
Childhood memories. Think about it. Think back to your life when you were just a kid. Think about what you were faced with. Is it the kind of crap kids in the inner-city deal with? I hope not. I'm not asking for much, yeah, I'd love for all of you to go and start tutoring or mentoring an under-privledged youth, but I know thats not everyone's heart. But I am asking for you to pray, to pray for me and Breakthrough. To pray for my beautiful and talented children. I am asking you to when you go to vote, think about education policies and gun control. I am asking you to try to get involved in helping others to see that there are a lot of people out there that are less fortunate than you just because of where they were born. I am asking you to be a person of action. A person who has a heart for justice. Jesus was. And I hope you are too...
God bless you all!