It is not enough to fill the children’s bellies and send them on their way. We need to fill them with much more. They lack hope, pride (the good kind), and compassion. Their environment tells them it is okay to be disinterested and dismissive of crime, poverty, violence, and misfortune.
That’s not okay.
Our mission is to make our program kids care about themselves, their family, their community, and their country by using the lessons and examples of the one person who can be tied into all those worlds- Jesus Christ.
Part of that is listening and watching what goes on in our desperate neighborhoods. We visit homes and talk to parents. We notice how they live and look for the little details that can make a difference.
Then we try to incorporate those thoughts into our discussions about community, family, and faith. Conversations about caring for God’s creation could bring us to point out why littering and recycling are important or why it is not okay to hit a girl and make fun of someone with a disability.
Using God’s gifts evolves into conversations about education, singing at church, or building on a hobby.
That we are made in God’s image lead to hygiene and nutrition issues and then to image and self-esteem.
There are so many important topics that the kids either aren’t introduced to or have already decided to follow peer or family trends.
In our little neighborhood, we have recent gang activity with guns, drugs, and extortion. Our kids are gaining access to the internet and television which brings with it exposure to sexual issues, self-image problems, bullying, and other matter. Recently, cigarettes have become a thing, adding worries to the alcohol, marijuana, and aerosol inhalation their teenage siblings are trying.
Certainly we are not going to stem the tide of peer pressure and adolescent experimentation and apathy by telling them what is “wrong”. Instead, we are determined to preach the advantages of doing what is right and of treating themselves and those around them respectfully and with love.
We pray for God to put the right words and actions into our program so we can make a difference in as many lives as possible. The enemy is strong, but with God, we will be stronger.