A friend I used to know wrote an excellent blog post about people that influenced his life (besides his parents) as he was growing up.
He’s an extremely very blessed and fortunate individual.
There are many, many who did not and do not have that blessing in their lives. What is being spoken into their lives is abuse, loneliness, fear, and un-wantedness. And some, if they are receiving the “Gospel”, are receiving a twisted version of it, so it does little to no good in their lives.
What do we do about that?
All around us, every day, are hurting people. Hurting children. They are searching for someone to rescue them, to help them, to love them. The world is full of orphans who have nobody. There are thousands and thousands of children in the foster care system in the United States alone. Just this week, one of those foster children approached a church with a plea that somebody please adopt him. All he wanted was a forever home.
Others live in fatherless homes. The more research I’ve done and the more involved I’ve become in ministry to children with incarcerated parents, the more I realize just how much being brought up in a fatherless home affects children. These children need mentors. They need someone to come alongside them and be proud of them. In a couple of weeks, my oldest daughter and I will be assisting at a camp for children with incarcerated parents. They just want to be loved. And they need to hear about their real Father, our Father God.
Sexual abuse in churches is on the rise. Or some studies indicate the reason it is on the rise is because people or more apt to report it today. Either way, it is evil. It should not be. Church should be a place where children and teens can safely go and find adults who will pour their lives into them and show them Christ. Not show them ugly, putrid, sickening behavior. This kind of evil can have life-long lasting effects, especially if no one takes the time to show that hurting young person who God really is.
I realize I’ve just listed a lot of negative situations, and that may be overwhelming or depressing to you. That’s not my intent. My intent is to make you aware that you have the opportunity to do something about it. It takes no special skills–just a willing soul and time and love. It could be as simple as writing a letter to a young person that you see struggling. Or it could mean being willing to take on a full mentoring position in someone’s life. Or, if God calls you to it, there might be adoption in your future–giving someone a forever home.
I had two people in particular who introduced me to the real God, after I lived years of cynicism and doubt and anger. They spoke truth into my life, allowing me to ask question after question, and also listening to me for hours on end. They since have abandoned, which has hurt tremendously. However, the important thing is that I know who my Father is now. I know the one true God, who will never abandon me, and for that I will always be grateful for them.
I also have been mentored by books—C.S. Lewis, John Stott, Tim Keller, Philip Yancey, just to name a few authors. Do you know someone who reads voraciously? Ask them if they want to read a book together and discuss it. It may open doors for discussion and debate that will lead to honest words about God in their life. This was an important part of my coming to belief in God.
This is one of those challenging posts—to me. What am I doing to make a difference in a young person’s life? I am grateful that my children all allow me to speak to them about God honestly. That’s a gift that came only after a tragic circumstance in their life. But maybe we can reach out to children and youth before they have something terribly challenging happen to them. I recently finished reading Tim Keller’s book “Walking with God through Pain and Suffering” and he says that the best thing one can do, is be prepared with their relationship to God before the inevitable crises occurs. We can do that with the children and youth that God brings into our lives.
Lastly, if God grants you this special opportunity, do not take it lightly. Do not take their story lightly. Treat it and them with respect, not disrespect. Everyone has a story. Maybe God will allow you to become a positive part of another person’s story.