If the Good Shepherd knows his own, and they know him (John 10:14), then we who minister to people in his name should be and do no less. This is especially true in children’s ministry. We need to know the names and stories of each child and their families. How else can we love them in the way of Jesus?
At my church we work hard to do enter the lives of kids we influence through our ministries, and especially through our 180 outreach to children each Saturday. Yet, we recognize the need to do far better. In keeping with our regular feedback and brainstorming sessions following each 180 series of sessions, we are striving to improve our connections with kids and their families.
Yesterday, I learned some disturbing news which feels like a sucker punch to my gut. At 180 we have always had a certain degree of turnover, given the transient nature of apartment life which many of our attendees experience. However, I was told it is possible that those households with children may be the target of early lease termination without notice on account of apartment owners and managers trying to weed out children from their premises. It’s sounds like the child catcher scene in the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. But it is far more real and ominous. Is it true? I am not certain. But the evidence is suggestive based on anecdotal testimony, and the unexplained and unexpected disappearance of several large families from the apartments we serve.
My church family loves these kids and their families. We want them to know Jesus and to live happy, fulfilled lives in Christ. The possibility that they are being evicted without reason or notice is deplorable to me. Where will they go? No wonder Portland has an out-of-control homelessness problem. I intend to investigate further to explore the merits of these accusations. I’m not sure what I will do if I discover they are, in fact, true.
Here is what I ask of you. Will you join my church family in prayer for our neighborhood, especially those who live in the local apartments? Please pray for the owners and managers of apartment complexes in that neighborhood. Pray that God will change any hard hearts, provide for any struggling families who are being unjustly evicted, and shed light on dark places where injustice is being tolerated for the sake of financial or political gain, or possibly some other form of bias. Pray that the seeds of the gospel which have been planet in the hearts of children will take root deeply, resulting in a lifetime of discipleship as followers of Jesus.