Hope and Wholeness for Children

image091414Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.  – Matthew 19:13-15

God loves all people, but throughout God’s story we learn that God has a bent toward those who are weak, vulnerable and powerless. Over and over again God calls his people to care for the alien, the widow and the orphan (e.g. Deuteronomy 27:19). Jesus mirrors that same bent, welcoming those whom society readily dismissed. Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, “Whatever you did for the least of these my brothers and sisters, you’ve done it to me”? That’s how deeply Jesus identifies with the weak, the vulnerable and the powerless.

God’s new vision for Prince of Peace calls us to love all people, but with special emphasis toward collaboratively bringing hope and wholeness to children, seniors and people in poverty – three growing populations in the south metro area that tend to be weak, vulnerable and powerless. Consider these statistics regarding children in Dakota Country:

  • 10,848 children are on free or reduced lunch
  • 17,128 children don’t live with both biological parents
  • When students in 11th grade were surveyed in Dakota County:
    • 51% reported using alcohol, marijuana or others drugs in the previous year
    • 24% reported being sexually active
    • 35% reported significant problems with feeling very trapped, depressed or hopeless about the future
    • 23% reported significant thoughts about suicide

Those are stunning and troubling statistics. Every single one of those children is God’s child, and as God’s people we have both the duty and the delight of bringing greater hope and wholeness into their lives. We’ll certainly do that on our campus through Family Ministry, but our vision also calls each of us to express God’s love in tangible ways to children wherever we live, work and play.

How do you respond to that challenge? In the story quoted above from Matthew 19 people were bringing children to Jesus to be blessed. Does your heart respond like the disciples in that story? If they aren’t your children or grandchildren do you think of them as a nuisance, someone else’s “problem”? Or does your heart reflect the heart of Jesus and his bent toward those who are weak, vulnerable and powerless?

As our Implementation Team presses out the new vision we’ll be hearing more ways in which we can collaborate with other organizations to bring hope and wholeness to children. For now, here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Stop by a neighborhood school and ask how you can help.
  • Pray daily for children and their families.
  • Offer to serve in the Family Ministry of your congregation.
  • Intentionally build a relational bridge to the children in your neighborhood.
  • Next time you’re at church, seek out children and youth and let them know how glad you are that they’re there.

How has God called you to bring hope and wholeness into the lives of children? Leave a comment and share your experience.

 

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