|Playing some games with the youth from PHA.|
It’s a blessing to be a child. For most kids that is true. For most it means that you get lots of candy, Christmas presents, birthday presents, play all-day, are secure and safe at night…yeah…it’s a blessing.
Today I was involved in another situation that I am having a hard time processing.
I was invited to speak at a monthly youth meeting that takes place at Potter’s House. 30 kids, age 12-20 filled one of the classrooms at Potter’s House. The theme of the day was “It’s a Blessing to be a Child.” I feel so ill equipped to speak to these situations. What do I know of their struggle? What do I know of their plight? Even now, I’m writing this on my MacBook reclined on a new couch. My parents are still alive, still married, and faithfully serving God. I’ve received a great education and am capable of generating an income that few from the garbage dump communities will ever realize.
So, when I say “it’s a blessing to be a child,” I clearly have had much different experience.
I spoke from 1 Timothy 4:12 where Paul tells Timothy to not let anyone despise his youth, but to be an example instead. I’m sure I butchered the Spanish language in a number of ways, but at least I do so with confidence.
At the end of our meeting the students had an opportunity to share memories from their childhood. Some shared of their favorite games that they played, or funny stories about their siblings. However, time stood still when one girl started sharing her favorite childhood memory: it was her father. Unfortunately, many of these students don’t have a father, they just have a memory. Some of their memories are good, as was the case for this girl. Others have had alcoholic, draug-addicted, abusive fathers. Some have had their father’s murdered or incarcerated. Within moments of laughing hysterically at some childhood story, there was not a dry eye in the room. Almost every child in the room had been deeply affected by the absence of their father.
I could hardly contain my own emotion. Rage tempered with compassion, sadness seasoned with a desire to enact revenge on the juvenile men who considered themselves mature enough to start a family. Instead of responsibly accepting their life’s decisions, they walked away leaving a wake of battered and wounded adolescents who all wandered into Potter’s House this morning.
I have no words for what I felt this morning. It was raw emotion. I’m grateful they have each other. I’m grateful we are here for whatever reason. Honestly, I often wrestle with the sufficiency of the gospel to the complexity of these situations. Fortunately, there is nothing simple about the gospel either. Simple clichés don’t make sense. “Pray this prayer by repeating after me” means nothing. These communities need nothing less than a robust, complex gospel that confronts and opposes the oppression and injustice of their life.
Since leaving this morning I’ve been a wreck. My only solace has been these two verses:
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.
I’m grateful that God hates injustice. I’m grateful that God hates oppression, abuse, and neglect. He hates them so much that He sacrificed the fellowship that He had with His own Son so that these little children could come to Him, their true Father. He will never leave them, abuse them, or forsake them.