After our church partnered with Carden Park Elementary School, I started paying more attention to children in poverty. This is a known fact that poverty affects hundreds of millions of children worldwide. How about America? Are all American children safe and have enough food for their growth and intellectual development? How does our future generation prepare to succeed in life? Do all children have equal opportunities?
Across America, the experiences shaping children’s lives are starkly different. Many children are getting the daily opportunities that they needto learn and develop, as well as an abundance of healthy food, and regular chances to play safely and grow their imaginations. However, for far too many other children, families and communities are struggling to provide them safe childhoods they deserve. 2018 End of Childhood Report showed that while the country’s overall score increased by four points since last year’s Report, the progress is slow and the situation remains troubling: the United States ranks 36th, between Belarus and Russia. Can America do better? Of course!
By teaching children to read and mentoring their life skills our church can make a difference in the lives of the first-graders. Just one hour a week of your time can help a girl or a boy to break a cycle of poverty. Check with Mary Buckler and Cindy Allen. They have stories to tell. We will need more volunteers this year to be prepared to meet our new group of children after the class we worked with graduated. What a gift that could be to see our children grow for six years and graduate one day from Carden Park.
Our first year together was a bliss! We worshipped, ate, cried, and had fun together. I count my blessings every day. I am so happy to be reappointed at Francis Street First!
Having said this, I also want to share a story about a girl whose brother took her to a nearby hilltop where he enjoyed playing alone. The girl was excited that her brother wanted to share his secret place with her. But when she came within sight of the steep path she drew back in dismay. “How do you climb to the top? Those rocks look so rough. There isn’t a smooth spot anywhere. It’s all bumpy and stony!”
“Yes,” said her older brother, “but how else would we ever climb to the top if it wasn’t? The stones and bumps are what we step on to get there.”
Often we think of the Church as a mountaintop. It feels safe to stay there with the people we know. But as soon as we decide to invite new people to the “hilltop,” we might notice that the way up is not that easy. Yes, the life of a Christian is not easy, and many of our members know that. God gives us the wisdom of an older brother/sister to say honestly to people, whom we disciple, that our lives and the life of the church are like the hill climbed by this little girl. There will be rocks and rough places. What gives us the courage to continue inviting the new people instead of enjoying the safety of the mountaintop? How can we know that we have the strength to teach and encourage others that they can do it too? If we believe that God gave us the vision of the future, we will complete the journey because God never leaves us alone.
Is there another way to avoid a steep path? Is there an easier and a smoother road to the mountaintop? I don’t know one. Do you?
Let’s step on our new path together. Helping each other and supporting each other, we will not end on the mountaintop alone but with many new brothers and sisters. The more the merrier! As for the rough spots, how else would we ever climb to the top if it wasn’t for the rough path? The “stones” and “bumps” are what we step on to get there.
The whole world – rich and poor alike – is still living through the consequences of the food, fuel, and financial crises. And we are already being faced with the growing impacts of climate change, the greatest market failure in human history. As a church, we understand that our purpose is to help those who are less fortunate to stand strong on their feet. The best way to help people besides giving them the help they need is to fight illiteracy. Our ministry at Carden Park Elementary School becomes even more important. Children who do not get behind in reading have higher chance to complete their high school education and get a better job.
Prayer: God, there is so much war, so much violence, so much conflict — too much. And it is the poorest and most vulnerable who suffer even more as a result: in displacement, in victimization, in loss of life. We lift up those of our brothers and sisters whose lives are most impacted by such circumstances. Bring peace to their lives, to their societies, to their worlds, Lord. And as we commit to walking with the poor, give us opportunities to stand with them and to stand for them. We pray all this in the name and power of the Prince of Peace, Amen.
by Mike Perry
There is so much pain in this world. So much despair. Why is that? Why does a loving God allow all this violence and evil to happen? Could God stop it if he wanted to? I have to think that he could. So why doesn’t he? Well, first we should know that the calamities of this world are man’s doing, not God’s. That man’s inhumanity to man is our fault, not God’s. Our greed and desire to possess and take from others what is not ours has been a stain on humanity since our ancestors first left the trees, perhaps before. So why does God permit this in a world he created? Well, I certainly do not presumed to know the mind of God, but perhaps it is so we will learn. For how can we know the good if we don’t experience the bad? Perhaps the day is coming when God will wipe away the bad forever. Until then God calls us each and every day to love each other just as he loves us, without conditions. We need only have ears to listen. Maybe that’s the answer! In the meantime bring your questions to Francis Street First Methodist Church in downtown Saint Joseph. Because we have questions too. Let us explore them together. #NewPlacesforNewPeople