monday: august 13
I needed a couple cool-off weeks after an exhausting summer. But as soon as I migrated home to the old Asheville manor a week ago, my mind migrated back to the kids. I spent almost every day of the summer with inner-city kids in Chattanooga. I can't get em out of my head.
(written, recorded, and performed by my boys)
the future of america:
They have names like: Amilcar, Tristian, Asia, Marlaysia, Elmonte, and the one and only, Precious Loveberry.
They wear shirts that say things like: "Jesus is my homeboy" and "Jesus Christ: that's WASSUP!"
They ask me questions like: "Who created God?" and "Why did God put the forbidden tree in the garden if he didn't want Adam and Eve to eat its fruit?" (These are 10 year olds.)
When I ask them what they did over the weekend, they might say: "I rode my bike."
They steal each other's tater tots.
They don't like jumping jacks at eight in the morning.
Some had never seen a lake before this summer.
They run from thunder.
They all want a champion. They elect unspoken leaders of the cool and uncool. They need heroes. Once playing kickball I hit a grand slam and was swarmed by forty little buzz-headed munchkins like we'd just won the World Series.
And the truth behind their lives is that they are all from broken families. They live in low-income housing. They live with their grandparents if they're lucky. They switch from school to school. They have no firm ground on which to stand. They don't know their fathers. Their mothers struggle with addictions, with unemployment, with new boyfriends.
One speaker this summer looked my boys in the eyes and told them squarely: "If the numbers hold true, 90% of you will have been in jail by the time you are 19." The world expects them to
be gangsters and potheads. What more can we expect? Look at their environment! Look at their background! It's inescapable!
Yet these kids are the future of America. They are talented and clever, and the seeds of faith have been planted in their hearts this summer. They heard the gospel, clearly, over and over again. It's with a surge of hope that I look out over the hundreds of them and think how they could change the world:
"A short period of the short life of one man is, when well and wisely directed, sufficient to remedy the misery of millions for ages."*
If one of these kids is on fire for Jesus in five years, my work this summer will be fulfilled. For now, the seeds of the future have been sown.
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." -Isaiah 55:10-11
*from an autobiography on William Wilberforce...