Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Allow Us to Introduce Ourselves

Welcome to Vision Atlanta's brand new mentoring program. We are so excited to be a part of it, and we are so glad to meet you!

I'm Becca and I will probably update this just as much as Adam, even though he's the man in charge of this operation. Why? Because I enjoy writing and blogging and building a community of support and prayer. Not that he doesn't, but he is so involved in the busy hands-on aspects that I'm sure this will be a 50/50 sort of thing. Oh and the cute little one in the picture? That's our daughter Jayci. She's almost 7 months old, and she is just as excited as we are to be a part of the mentoring program. I know it, she told me.

Hopefully, this blog will be a place where we can keep you up to date on the ministry, on our lives, on the kiddos we work with, and also provide any resources that we come across which you might find helpful as a mentor.

If you have any more questions about the mentoring program, want to get involved by mentoring, supporting us, or praying for us - give us a shout at VAMentoring@gmail.com

You can also visit Vision Atlanta's website to learn more about our ministry, what we stand for and who we serve.

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

One of the Reasons We Love Mentoring

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

In the course of spending a lot (LOTS!) of time with all the kids downtown, Adam and I have come to realize that mentoring is really the best way to make a difference in their lives. In fact, together with Metro Kidz, Adam has launched a mentoring program for Vision Atlanta. So far, there are 4 kids being mentored by former counselors.

After church on Sunday, we went out for lunch with one of these mentors (Arielle), the girl she is mentoring (Arnesha), and the girl's two brothers. Arnesha is twelve, but looks at least sixteen. She spends most of her time taking care of her two youngest brothers who are two and three years old. Sitting there watching Arnesha talk to Arielle, grinning and giggling shyly, I was struck by the thought that this mentoring thing really works!

Of course, we DID already know that. Why else would we be leaving a full-time, steady job to cultivate the mentoring program? (oh yeah, have I mentioned that yet?) Adam and I are so passionate about mentoring for so many reasons. We love (LOVE!) camp, but also know that one week every summer is not necessarily enough to create lasting change that can be sustained in an environment that is difficult to say the least. That's why Adam is starting/developing the mentoring program as a follow-up to camp.

For many of these kids, one of the biggest obstacles they face is a decided lack of positive role models. The females they see are usually young, single, unemployed mothers living off welfare. The males they encounter are mostly drug dealers and absent fathers. As a result, these kids don't know any other way to grow up. They can't see the possibilities, they don't recognize their potential. Many times all they need is someone to point out another way of living, and someone who will support them and guide them towards a new destination: one that doesn't involve drugs, violence or welfare.

Adam has been mentoring Saviour (aka Sabo - I've told you about him before). Just a few weeks ago, I was struck by how far he has come since we first met him. You want to know why? Don't worry, I'll tell you . . . but this post is already entirely too long and I'm all 'written out' for today. Hopefully tomorrow fresh eyes and words will make it easier for me to tell the story in a way that doesn't involve entirely too many details and rambling side notes and boring, unnecessary information like this post is starting to have . . .
Posted by Becca at 8:13 AM
Labels: mentoring, Vision Atlanta

Science Fair Fun

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I feel like I need to preface this post by telling you that I have been trying to write it for days and my thoughts just keep going around and around . . . My heart has been burdened and I can't seem to get my feelings down in words. So my apologies beforehand if things wander or don't make much sense!

Anyways, because nothing is better than doing school work when its completely unnecessary, Adam and I agreed to help two of our boys from downtown (Zack and Sabo) with their science fair projects. We didn't quite know what we were getting ourselves into - in other words, we had no idea how unprepared and ill-equipped these poor boys actually were to create a science fair project. Both boys failed science last year (but it 'don't matter' because they just keep moving up in grades anyways . . . science doesn't count). Without our help, I'm almost positive they just wouldn't have done it.

Our time spent helping them was interesting and eye-opening. Although we visit them at home every Saturday and see them a few more times throughout the week, this was the first time we had spent any amount of time in their homes. When we got downtown with supplies and ready to work on a very large project due in two days, Zack's mom wasn't sure where Zack was -- outside somewhere? Once we finally got him inside and started to work on the project, Zack's mom joined us and actually seemed quite into the experiment (which paper towel was most absorbent), despite the fact that she had no idea what the scientific method was, or what hypothesis meant, or even what his problem was, or his conclusion should be . . . The good news is that we were able to empower her to help Zack finish his project, and I left feeling completely certain that she would make sure he turned it in (because now SHE was invested in the project herself).

At Sabo's house, we went upstairs to help him put together his poster board (since he had already done the experiment) Sabo's grandmother cannot leave her spot on the couch, so she cant help him. Sabo and his brother Sincere share a room which consists of bare, dingy off-white walls, two twin beds with bare matresses (no sheets) which were stained, lumpy and all-together unappetizing as a place to sleep (which is probably why 8 year old Sincere usually sleeps on the couch in front of the tv). Seeing how this eleven year old boy lives helped me understand why he seems completely depressed every time we are at his house or in his neighborhood, but is a laughing, funny, normal boy when we're at our house or church or anywhere else.

This understanding helped me come to an important realization about why these boys fail. (Well that's not super-accurate, because there are LOTS of reasons they fail) but one important reason is that it is so much safer to NOT TRY than to try and fail anyways. Because how are these boys supposed to do a science project that has to be typed when they have no computers? or parents who know what "hypothesis" means? or parents who can get out of bed for that matter . . . (As a side note - why would they give inner-city kids a project that requires typing and "dressing up" for the presentation??)

I dont even know what my point is, except that these boys are precious children of God. They deserve to be loved and cared for as much as we do, as much as Jayci does. But just because of where Jayci was born, she is going to be given so many more opportunities and chances for success. Because of where these boys are born, they face obstacles that often seem too big to surmount -- but I guess that's why the Lord tells us to take care of "the least of these." By loving them and helping them, I see Jesus and feel Jesus and am filled with a joy that comes from knowing that He loves his children all deeply regardless of their circumstances.
Posted by Becca at 7:41 AM
Labels: mentoring, Vision Atlanta

Rosa Lee

Sunday, October 5, 2008
Rosa Lee
I just finished reading a fascinating (and heartbreaking) book called 'Rosa Lee.' The book is about the life of Rosa, a mother of 8 (she had her first at 14 years old) and grandmother to more than 30. Rosa lives in the housing projects of Washington, DC. She has always lived in poverty and is a heroin addict, prostitute, chronic shoplifter and drug dealer. Of her 8 kids, 6 of them followed her into a lifestyle of drugs, violence, and poverty.

I was heartbroken to read about how she helped her kids shoot heroin, turned tricks while her daughter slept in the bed next to her, and used her children and grandchildren to help her both shoplift and run drugs. Even her adult children live with her, bum money off her to buy drugs and refuse to take responsibility for their actions. Reading about the conditions they live in (plagued by fear, filled with mistakes and violence) I am both angry and broken. Yes, Rosa's children are living lifestyles that are just wrong and yes, I am angry at the fact that they are doing the same things to their children that their mom did to them (in fact, many of Rosa's grandchildren are also addicts, in prison or dealing drugs etc). My anger, however, is tempered by the realization that neither Rosa nor her children know anything different. No one has shown them another way to live, and how can they be expected to make choices differently than their mother, and everyone else they see and experience in their environment?

That said, 2 of Rosa's children DID make it out of the projects, and live within the bounds of "normal" society, with good jobs and without dependence on drugs, welfare or their mother. So what happened - how did these two make it out unscathed? The book's author asked the two children the same question - and it turns out that both of them had one person outside of their family who took a vested interest in their lives and success. For one of them, that person was a teacher who taught him how to read, and for the other it was a social worker who drove him to tutoring and just was there for him when he needed someone. Both of these people were able to demonstrate to Rosa's children that there was another way to live, that drugs and violence were not the only option.

My heart literally broke as I was reading this book, both for these kids and for the possibility that MY kids (ok i use "my" loosely here) might be living in these same circumstances. This possibility makes me want to rescue them, to take them into my home where I can love them and feed and clothe them properly, teaching them responsibility so they dont fall into the many traps that surround them in their environment. All I can do though, is pray for them, and hope that maybe Adam and I can be those people who offer these kids a new perspective, new options and a way out.
Posted by Becca at 7:31 AM
Labels: mentoring, Vision Atlanta

Kosovo and Inner-city Atlanta

Thursday, August 14, 2008

This summer at camp, Adam had his hands full with discipline on the boys side of camp. I dont remember it being nearly as intense last year, at least as far as issues and discipline problems go. One of the most frustrating things about working with kids from the inner city is how they respond when they get in trouble or get upset. They either get angry and violent or shut down completely. I was telling Pastor Steve how frustrated I get when they shut down because they wont tell you what happened, why they're upset or what they want; instead, they sit silently (usually in tears) refusing to let you in. I understand that it must be some sort of defense mechanism, or survival instinct where that's the only way they can safely respond to situations where they live. But Pastor Steve opened my eyes to the depths of their situation: he told me about how he went on a mission trip to Kosovo to work with war victims and children who had been affected or displaced by the war. And the kids in Kosovo respond in the exact same way that our kids from down-town Atlanta respond. I was blown away to think that these kids had experienced as much trauma as war victims - what, I wondered, could possibly be so terrible in our city?

So I began asking the kids questions, and paying attention to their responses. One of the boys who kept trying to run away described how he watched his brother shoot and kill someone. Another little boy who Adam kept having to discipline explained that he didn't like where he lived because there was shooting every morning and every night and his sister's house got "all shot up." One little girl had just been evicted from her home, and she woke up multiple times in the night crying and screaming with terror. One boy got in trouble for bringing a gun to school because he was going to use it on his mom's boyfriend who beat up his mom . . .

Realizing the depths of these kids' pain makes it easier to understand and extend grace when they respond inappropriately, angrily or by shutting down. They are victims of injustice, and I cannot help but hear Micah 6:8 echoing in my heart: "What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God"
Posted by Becca at 6:09 PM
Labels: mentoring, Vision Atlanta

Camp Grace - 2nd Year

Originally Posted: 8/13/2008

Once again, I've been trying unsuccessfully for days to write my Camp Grace update. For some reason, I thought it might be easier to describe or put into words the second time around. Although it wasn't as life-changing for us as last year (and what I mean by that is simply that we already know inner-city ministry is where God has us, whereas last year it was a big surprise for us that changed the course of our lives . . . )

That said, camp this year was just as moving as last year - we loved it just as much as we did last year, and we felt confirmed in the direction our life has been moving.

I wanted to share some stories with you, as well as just a few of the things that God taught Adam and I this year about His love, grace and movement through His people. Of course, we all know that I tend to ramble and write long posts, so there's no way I can share all that in a single blog post (unless you feel like reading an online novel, but most people - besides myself - have far more important things to do with their time). So over the next few days I will try and share in small quantities and hopefully your heart will be moved and transformed just as Adam's and mine have been.

Posted by Becca at 4:07 PM
Labels: mentoring, Vision Atlanta

Saviour's Story

Originally Posted: 6/30/2008

I've been wanting to share Saviour's story with you for a while now, but I've been struggling to find the right words and the appropriate amount to share so you can share my burdened heart without violating privacy etc

Anyways, we had a big event at our church for the kids from downtown on friday night (which was amazing by the way!) and Saviour and his brother Sincere got into a fist fight which resulted in me getting punched in the face (accidentally I'm choosing to believe) - so I decided it was time to jump right in and tell you their story in hopes (belief really) that your prayers will make a difference.

Saviour (his real name) goes by "Sabo" so I'll use that instead because I always find it a little weird to call someone other than Jesus "Saviour" . . . Anyways, Sabo is ten years old, although by looking at him and interacting with him you would probably guess him to be at least fifteen. Of course, he's been through more in his ten short years than many people experience in a lifetime, so the maturity (well not so much maturity as a certain hardness) is understandable. Sabo has an older brother and an older sister, although the older brother doesnt live with them. He also has a younger brother (Sincere who is eight) and a younger sister (Samaya, she's six). They live in one of the Atlanta housing projects in the heart of downtown Atlanta (which means they live in a tiny, unairconditioned apartment - which should be outlawed in GA summer by the way) Just under a year ago, Sabo's mom died. And since, like most of his friends, Sabo doesnt know his dad, it fell to his grandmother to take responsibility for Sabo and his siblings.

Unfortunately, Sabo's grandmother is bedridden. She does her best to look after them - but five kids (plus cousins are often staying there as well) are a lot to look after from a cot in a scorching hot apartment. When I signed the kids up for summer camp this year, I discovered she doesn't know their birthdays, whether or not they have health insurance or how old they are. Y'all, my heart broke with that realization. I mean, I dont know how they get fed or bathed or clothed or hugged.

I do know that their older sister (I think she's fifteen) helps take care of them - but I also know that the other kids inform me that "she doesn't mess around" when they get in trouble, which means that she probably "whoops" them plenty.

One of the moms who lives in their housing project was telling me that Sabo and Sincere have been in serious trouble ever since their mom died, they get kicked out of school, their teachers cant handle them and no one knows what to do with them. And truthfully, Saviour and Sincere are two of the hardest, most trouble-making kids at Metro Kidz, but it's impossible for me to feel anything but love and empathy for them, no matter how many times they get in fist fights, and even when I end up in the middle getting punched in the face.

Because how do you expect kids who are less than ten years old to understand the teachings of Jesus when they've never experienced anything close to the love and grace of Jesus? In fact, when Sabo found out that Sincere punched me in the face, he asked me if I wanted him to "beat the crap out of Sincere" for me. I told him I forgave Sincere and that the Bible tells us to be kind to those who hurt us -- Sabo responded by giving me a disgusted look and asking "who taught you that?!"

I share this story to ask you to come alongside Adam and I in praying for this family, praying that Jesus' love might shine through us and shed some light in their dark situation. We dont know how to keep these kids from ending up in prison, but we know that Jesus is bigger than their circumstances and that He can do anything!

Once Upon A Time . . .

Originally Posted: Monday, March 31, 2008

I promise someday I'll write about something other than my work downtown -- but today is not that day - Today, I want to tell you a little story . . .

Once upon a time there were three little boys who I loved: Quadree (7 yrs), Jonovan(aka "junior" - 6 yrs) and Jauntez (3 yrs). They lived with their mom in a small apartment in the Atlanta Housing Project of Herndon Homes. Unlike many of the other kids in the neighborhood, all three boys have the same father, they know who he is, and they even see him on special occasions like Christmas. Their mom works at Mrs. Winners Chicken for minimum wage, making it difficult to provide for her sons' needs.

All three boys use language to describe women that is best reserved for female dogs, and throw around curse words like they're nothing. They throw full-on temper tantrums if they dont get their way, they know more about sex, drugs, alcohol and violence than I do (and I'm almost 20 years older than all of them) One time at church, I caught the five year old pulling a picture of a naked woman out of his shoe.
In short, they have had to grow up far too fast. Quadree and even Junior are often responsible for taking care of Jauntez; they dont always have clean clothes to wear or three meals a day, and they dont really know their father. I'm not sharing all this to say that their mom is not a good mom, or so you'll feel sorry for them, but because I realized something about these boys this week at Canvas.

Matt talked on Friday night about the resurrected Christ, and specifically how God is the God of restoration. And all I could think about was how excited I was that one day, these boys (hopefully) will get to sit on their REAL daddy's lap. And if that isnt a picture of restoration and hope - then I dont know what is!
Posted by Becca at 5:40 AM
Labels: mentoring, Vision Atlanta

Mama D's House

Originally Posted: Monday, January 14, 2008

On Saturday morning, I drove to the Dream Center for our weekly visit to Herndon Homes to visit the kids . . . I arrived there before Jeremy, so Pastor Paul insisted that I come with him to Mama D's house. We drove down the street to a dilapidated structure, and I felt my apprehension grow as Pastor Paul warned me that the house would smell badly (Mama was bedridden and had no bladder control) and that she rented her rooms to prostitutes and drug dealers . . .

Pastor Paul squeezed his Bronco into the tiny driveway, I took a deep breath in (to fit through the door) and nearly stepped in a pile of something nasty (either vomit or diarrhea - I didnt double check). The first thing I noticed upon entering the house was that it did, indeed, smell strongly of urine (along with a hodge-podge of other equally gross and unmentionable scents . . . )

Mama D was out of bed that day, smiling widely at us from her wheelchair, several men were passed out on a dingy looking couch, a pregnant woman stood in the middle of the room, and an adorable little boy (probably somewhere between one and two) ran up to us as soon as we entered the door. Pastor Paul lifted the boy into his arms, telling me he was soaking wet (although apparently even having pants on at all was a big step up). I was somewhat surprised at the level of delight everyone seemed to share at Pastor Paul's visit. For some reason, I assumed that people like this would rather not share the same space as a conservative white pastor who disapproves of their lifestyle. To the contrary, Pastor Paul was obviously close to all of these people, calling them by name, kissing their foreheads, and playing games with their children.

After joking with everyone a little, hugging all around and passing out food, Pastor Paul insisted on grabbing hands to pray. We gathered around a small stove, the only source of warmth in the old, drafty house. Somewhat hesitantly, I held Mama's wrinkled hand and laid my other hand on the shoulder of one of the men passed out on the couch. As Pastor Paul began talking to the Lord, people began emerging from rooms all over the house, asking to join in our prayer, and adding their own prayer requests to our list. One of the men requested that we praise the Lord that he had been released from prison the day before (he was arrested for drug trafficking and aggravated assault): his two sons, who were grinning widely, flanked him on either side. A woman walked in from outside wearing dirty Sponge Bob slippers and asked us to pray for Mama D's health. A white woman emerged with a nasty black eye and asked to join our circle as well. . .

After prayer, the woman with the black eye thanked Pastor Paul and gave both of us hugs. Pastor asked her where she got her black eye and she sheepishly responded "from my man"
"Is he still your man?" Pastor asked. Looking down, she murmured a quick "yes" in response, bursting into tears. Pastor Paul pulled her into a hug, and tears welled in his eyes as he whispered to her that she was worth more than that and that "real men do not hit their women." My own eyes blurred with tears as I realized that this was probably one of the only times in this woman's life that she had been treated as worthy of love, as a daughter of a King . . .

To tell you the truth, I cannot remember ever feeling as overwhelmed by what the love of Christ in action looks like as I did at that moment. Like so many of the disciples and Pharisees, I have a tendency to disapprove of and avoid these people and their lifestyles - yet over and over again, these are the very people and the very places where Christ chose to spend most of his time and ministry. As we left, I hugged each and every one of them, kissed the little boy's forehead and walked away changed by having encountered the face of Christ in the place I least expected it . . .

Learning by Serving

Originally Posted: 9/10/2007

Since we got back from Camp Grace, I've been going downtown a couple times a week and helping out with several of the ministries that brought kids up to camp. I'm sharing this fact not to "toot my own horn" so to speak, but to tell you a little bit about how blessed I've been through serving. The Lord continually teaches me, stretches me, and blesses me with overflowing joy each time I go serve in the projects and share love with some deserving kids.

I am struck each time I drive downtown by the poverty that surrounds me. Boarded-over windows, barbed wire, broken-down cars and trash litter and line the streets. When we pull up to Herndon Homes (the largest project in Atlanta) it looks nicer than I expected, it is not until Jeremy points out the drug dealers on the corner and the "dime bags" that once held crack all over the ground that I realize I've entered a whole different world, one I've never before experienced or imagined.

My heart breaks with fear and pain as I watch two year olds waddle around in nothing more than a diaper, drinking grape soda from a can, mindless of the minefield of broken glass that his little feet navigate fearlessly.

At children's church this Sunday, a beautiful young girl asks me to pray for her mom - when I ask for details she says she can't tell in front of so many people - when i ask if she wants to whisper in my ear, she nods vigorously before informing me that her mom's in jail and she has been separated from her brothers and sisters and is living with her aunt. Tears well in her eyes (and mine) as I do the only thing I know how to: pray earnestly that the Lord will show us a way out, and that he will rescue her from her circumstances.

Later, a polite and helpful young man who often helps us with our ministry reveals that he has been suspended for misbehaving in school. His mom adds that he has threatened to re-open a DFCS case on her, and he protests strongly when his mother says she's trying to get his father to pay child support (he argues that his father shouldn't be to blame)

I cannot help but wonder how any of these kids can be expected to rise above their circumstances . . .we are quick to label them lazy and "bad" from the comfort of our four bedroom homes with big yards and full fridges - but how will they know a different way to live unless WE show them. They desperately need to know that they're worth it, that they deserve more than they have been dealt, and that their heavenly Father cares infinitely more about them than their earthly fathers seem to . . .

I am excited every time I get to go downtown and spend time with these kids, knowing that in them I encounter the Lord, who became the poor and hurting as He died on the cross. . . Never before has my faith felt as vibrant and real as it does when i am serving these kids.

"The Lord of Hosts says this: "Render true justice. Show faithful love and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the stranger or the poor. . ." Zachariah 7:9-10a

Leaving Stuff Behind

Originally Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I listened to a Podcast this morning on my way to work (well it's a sermon, but "podcast" sounds cooler) by Rob Bell of Mars Hill Church . . . He talked about a bunch of really cool stuff, and it has all been resonating through me all day.

Posting to this blog has been harder than I thought it would be -- it's been so long since I've really written anything, and even longer since I connected to my own heart (something I'm just re-learning how to do). It's a lot like trying to dig a well: I know there's water there, I've drank from it before and it was refreshing and sweet. But it's hard work digging deep enough to tap into that "wellspring" of life. Sometimes I find myself getting close, knowing that I will hit water in the next few digs -- but I stop myself because it's painful and a little scary (what happens if it's too much water and it drowns me? or if it hurts my heart to keep digging at it like this?!)

Anyways, all this to say that I've been thinking about my future and where the Lord is leading me. I've always had all these grand plans for my life (because I'm "smart" - whatever that means) But lately I'm not so sure of my big plans -- I'm learning that God wants me to take it one step at a time - to trust Him that He knows exactly where I am and where I'm going. He even says He has plans for me - plans including prosper and not harm . . . so why is that so hard to believe? Why do I constantly want to work out my five-year plan (marriage, dog, house, kids . . . all wrapped up nicely with great friends and a fantastic job)?

I was reminded by Rob Bell this morning that God likes to provide for us TODAY. When the Isrealites were in the desert, they were only allowed to collect enough manna to last them for one day. And when the Lord was guiding them (for 40 years remember?) He went ahead of them as a pillar of fire. When He stopped, they stopped - and when He moved, they followed. I've heard this story hundreds (well close at least) of times, and I've always just wished that I could see God that clearly - see where He's going and where He's taking me. But when I stop and think about the implications of what life must have been like for the Isrealites following this pillar of fire, I am convicted that my own life seems sadly "faith-less" in comparison. Think about it: they had to be willing to follow God anywhere, to pack up and leave - even if they had already pitched a sweet tent and made it all "homey" What would it look like for me to follow God anywhere - no matter how comfortable I am where I'm at (even in my brand new house?!) What does it look like to follow a God who is unpredictable, scary-powerful, and who only shows you one step at a time? I want that kind of faith. . . and I think one of the keys is being completely unwilling to be where God's NOT. In other words, when the pillar moves - I'm going to follow, even if it goes somewhere I dont necessarily want to go - because I'm learning that it's better to be somewhere hard if God's presence is there, than to be somewhere comfortable without Him. . .

Camp Grace

Originally Posted: 7/13/2007

I've been putting this post off for a while because I'm not sure where to begin and what to tell you about our time here at Camp Grace this summer.

It honestly has been a humbling and life-changing experience spending a month with these kids. First of all, let me give you a little background on what Camp Grace is. Four years ago, it began with a day camp which bussed inner city kids out of Atlanta each day -- now it's an overnight camp in Cleveland, GA where kids from the poorest areas of the city come for a week to play basketball, volleyball, swim, fish, hike, cook, do arts and crafts, play lots of fun games and learn a lot about the Lord. Basically, the goals of the camp are to love the kids, introduce them to the ideas of Christianity and the person of Christ, and to offer them a joyful and exciting break from the poverty, crime and other stresses they experience on a continual basis in their day-to-day life. Throughout the year, Vision Atlanta raises money so that the kids only pay $30 for a week of camp. Groups like Kellar Williams, and individuals from churches etc (like my parents) sponsor the other $360 dollars it takes to send them here for the week.

Most of the kids who come bring only one or two changes of clothes. Some dont have toothpaste, soap or bedding. Many of them exhibit a hardness when they first get there that tends to wear down over the course of the week. Those who fight the hardest and curse the most tend to be the ones most heartbroken to leave. I wish I could do a better job describing how precious it is to be a part of that moment when they grin and run into a hug, especially when earlier in the week they are determined to be tough and prove that they dont need anyone . . .

These kids have stories that will make you cringe, stories of ministry leaders shaking roaches off their clothing to pack them for camp, of entire cabins of girls not knowing who their fathers are, of gang activity and daily violence . . . their stories break my heart, and cause me to examine my faith. If I proclaim to be a Christian, yet do not serve and love the forgotten (the "least of these") then what will have to say for myself when i stand before my Savior one day? If I take what the Bible says seriously, than I cannot know about what these kids are facing and do nothing to help them . . .

So now I am back at home, in my three bedroom house with two cars, a puppy, lots of clothes and friends . . . and it becomes easier to ignore the poverty and violence than to make the effort to go serve - especially because serving now means getting out of my comfortable chair in my cozy home and going into a world that's dangerous and unknown . . . but I cannot allow myself not to go because I cannot help but think that the dangerous, unknown world of these kids is exactly where Jesus would be.