I met James* when he was eight. He was a solid square-shouldered, verbally gifted boy with a beaming smile. He lived with his mother, whom he adored, and his brothers. His stepfather had just been shot dead on the stoop of his home on the most violent block of Long Island. James was a [...]
Thirty years ago I stood on the sidewalk and watched a home burn while waiting for the Firemen who had never been called. I did not know it then, but a five year-old girl was also waiting for rescue that came too late. Today 150 children wait for a Christian mentor to show them the way out of a toxic life. This time I am not waiting, and I hope you will join me.
“Ok, lets review. What is the name of Elizabeth and Zachariah’s son?” “Jesus!” said the 9 fourth and fifth graders in unison.” It is the Christian Jeopardy default for kids. I laughed. It reminded me of a story of a pastor who asks the following question during a children’s sermon. “What is gray, has a furry tail, collects nuts and hops?”
I was at my church and community harvest party and it seems like all the moms were serving and the dads were walking the kids around to have fun. I must admit at first it felt good to see that many dads with their kids. Everyone enjoyed the music, dads were showing off at the ring the bell with the sledgehammer game, and the kids were eating their fair share of candy.
I was about a mile from my house when I saw a boy who looked to be 10 years-old shooting hoops in the street. I watched from a distance as he retrieved the ball, again and again, oblivious to the stranger who was now only one house-length away. In the next instant, a white Toyota pulled into the driveway and the boy, leaving the ball in the street, darts up the driveway and is at the driver’s side door before the car had completely stopped.
Last Saturday Taya and I hosted our third annual dinner for her family. We spent a few hours at my house preparing food, and then served a total of 8 guests in my church basement. Each year she chooses a theme, and this year, she wanted to do everything “old-fashioned”. So we found some old looking jackets and hats and pearl necklaces to wear.
A mom was waiting in our lobby for her 14-year-old son, Josh, who was in the next room getting his first piano lesson. This is a fatherless boy who has longed to learn to play the piano. He has been trying to teach himself for years. His mom finally was able to get him a keyboard. He has been matched to one of our mentors for the past year. Mom said, ‘He was a very angry boy.
Peter was interviewing *Donna, an eleven-year-old girl, to determine her interests before matching her with a Christian mentor. The gangly pre-adolescent child sat with wide eyes when told of the fun things she could do with her own adult friend. “What I really like to do is play kickball.” Meanwhile, I was in the kitchen speaking with Donna's mom.
We were standing in the lobby of a church where I had just spoken. A young man walked up to me to say thank you. He was surrounded by a group of kids he had packed in a van and brought to church. “Why do you thank me?”
On one recent, especially beautiful day, Linda was hoping to hike with Jaclyn (an orphan living in a group home). But to be totally truthful, she did not expect to be able to leave the building. Linda was having a bad day already and dreaded the idea of being holed up in that dark room, again, playing yet another game of Yahtzee where the sound of dice echoes endlessly around the cinderblock walls. She wondered why she had even planned anything as she waited for Jaclyn to appear down that long, cold hallway.