Last night as I drove home, I wondered what all the kids were doing from the apartment community. Were they practicing their new skills with the ball they had received? I almost took a turn to drive down there and find out, but exhaustion set in and I continued home.
I had taken the three basketball players aside that last night and told them I would give them the ball as long as they share it with all the kids in the apartments. They promised they would do just that. I believe them because I have already witnessed them sharing over and over again throughout the summer months.
I have learned so much from them, children and grownups alike. There seems to be a common concern for all the kids. They do not lock their entire lives behind closed doors. Rather, they come out into the common areas of their porches and the parking lot, talking, joking, playing games, helping each other out. It is the sort of community which many other neighborhoods could only dream about.
Each time I walk into the parking lot, the smiles seem to grow a little wider. Some of the kids yell out as they see me walking from across the street, “He’s coming! He’s coming!” When I first heard that last Wednesday my mind flashed back to the stories my Mom tells of her time in Watts. She would come into the projects and all the children would converge to her location hollering, “The Bible lady is coming! The Bible lady is coming!” They loved her dearly because she loved them.
What makes my experience so touching is that it is not only the kids with whom I and others from my church seem to be bonding. It is also their parents, there uncles, there grandparents, their older brothers and sisters; their entire community whom we so far have had the privilege of meeting.
I love all the kids under my pastoral care dearly, both those to whom we have recently been reaching out, and those who long have been attending our programs. They come from so many backgrounds and situations. There are foster kids, adopted kids, tough kids, shy kids, gentle kids and not so much. They all, like me, need Jesus. And not only them, but their families too. I am not content simply to tell them about Christ. I want to share it with their parents and their entire community as well. Notably, some already may know Christ. I make no assumptions. God knows their hearts, thankfully. In both the arenas of outreach to new children and ministry to those who long have attended, I am convinced all the more that we must attend to the spiritual and practical needs of entire families. While the message of the gospel as at the forefront of our aims, the meeting of their practical needs deserves extraordinary attention as well.