Friday, August 10, 2007

Preparation for the Work

Early September, 1996
I had just returned to my apartment, accompanied by my soon-to-be husband. My hair was freshly styled in a practice-run for our wedding just a few days away. As we sat on the couch dreamily talking about the life ahead of us, there was a disturbance outside the door.
“I’M GOING TO KILL YOU!,” followed by scuffling sounds. To my utter shock, dismay, and even horror, my fiancĂ© bolted out the door. There was more yelling and scuffling, as I stayed behind the closed door (he had closed it for my protection), fearing for my future husband’s life. Things calmed down, and eventually Scott came back inside to tell me what had happened.
A 10-year-old boy (we’ll call him Ray) lived upstairs and was left alone a lot. He had learned how to cook, but didn’t have any food in the house. His 12-year-old friend (we’ll call him Roy) was also left alone a lot, but he didn’t know how to cook. He had food. Roy brought over ingredients, and Ray was making pancakes for them to share. They got into an argument over something and it spilled outside of the apartment and down the stairs. Roy pulled out a double-edged knife, shouted “I’m going to kill you!” and was in the process of attempting that when Scott interrupted the fight. He disarmed Roy and kept his knife. Roy was then sent home. He promised that as soon as his older brother came home, he would be back. Scott took Ray back upstairs and offered to help him with food or whatever he needed. Ray told Scott that he would be going to live with his dad the next day, and showed Scott all of his stuff that was packed up and his sharpened pencils that were ready for his new school. Scott found out what time his mother would be home, and made a point of being back to speak with her that evening. She was disinterested, to say the least. He also attempted to follow up with Roy, but was not very successful. He did return the knife to the boy’s guardians.
My husband was 21 years old when this happened. I had never seen someone go out of the way to resolve an issue like this. It scared me, but I was impressed. I was not a Christian at the time, so I did not view this as anything beyond Scott’s nature and abilities. I did not know this was a precursor of things to come.
When we moved into our first house with our infant son, Scott instantly formed a relationship with the 3 boys who lived by us. Two were brothers, and the other boy was their cousin. Their mother locked the door when she was away, and the boys had to stay outside. It was often cold. I offered to let the boys come into our house, but they would not unless Scott was home. They could probably sense my “pity” for them, and Scott was more of a pal. They would often sit on our back porch and wait for him to come home from work. Even after a long day at work, he would sit out on the back porch and pal around with them. One of the boys (the cousin) confided in Scott that he had been totally alone for 3 days. His dad had been arrested and his grandfather had gone to the hospital. The authorities didn’t know he was alone. I was mildly jealous of the attention that Scott gave to these boys, when I had been home alone all day with an infant. I am ashamed of my reaction now.
This pattern has continued throughout our marriage. Troubled kids have found their way to Scott and he has always had time for them. He’s never sought them out, they’ve just shown up.
We actually sat down together last year and tried to make a list of our talents, resources, and abilities to see if we could figure out what God’s calling was on our lives. Scott’s ability to reach troubled kids and his concern for them did not make the list. It was completely over-looked. It was only after we were called to the youth ministry that we saw how God had been preparing us all along for such a task. We work mostly with “bus kids” from non-Christian families. We see patterns and cycles of abuse and neglect and the many issues that stem from these family curses. The kids are the victims, but unless they are reached with the Gospel of Christ and His message of hope and redemption, they will soon be the perpetrators. The power of Christ is the only thing that can break Satan’s hold on these families. What a blessed sight it is when we are able to witness parents being led to Christ by their children. God is good and worthy of all praise.
Here’s more good news: God doesn’t prepare the husband without also preparing the wife. My preparation has been different. A lot of it took place in the way I grew up and the neighborhood I grew up in. I can relate to these kids in a way that I never thought I could. My preparation has also been in large part through my husband. His ability to step out and help people regardless of personal consequence has emboldened me. I have seen God bless his efforts over and over. I cannot shy away from the responsibilities God has given me in the name of protecting my kids (which was my nature). I will be vigilant as their mother, but God is ultimately our Protector. He has called our family to labor together and He will be our Defender.

2 comments:

Tish said...

It's interesting that we go through our lives wondering just why certain things are happening to us. If we're lucky, and many of us are, the plan starts to unfold later down the line. It's nice to be able to look back and see that everything that brought us to here was part of a grand scheme. I'm glad you guys have been able to figure out your purpose.

I honestly think that my calling has to do with animals. From working at the UT Vet Hospital as a teenager to wanting to become a vet to finding two dogs I love with all my heart and then having them both end up with major medical problems...like you, I know that's it part of a bigger plan. I get choked up whenever I see an animal in suffering. I think I'm affected by that more than I am by people in similar situations.

I've thought about applying to vet school, but to tell you the truth, I'm not so sure I want to be a vet. I do want to help animals in some way though. I've been thinking of one day starting my own nonprofit organization to financially support critically ill dogs whose owners are unable to pay for their care. I think that is what I'd most love to do.

Good luck with the church youth! You're doing a fantastic job!

Don and Lynn said...

My better half worked with bus kids for about 4 years before we switched churches. Our current church doesn't have a bus ministry, but we've talked about buying them one and starting it up when we can save up the money. I rode the bus with him on numerous occassions and it was a learning experience for me. Where some of these kids come from, well, I had no idea that there were children right here in the USA who lived in conditions like that. We taught many of them in Sunday school and they all still reserve a special place in my heart. All you can do is hope that somehow, someway, you've planted a seed in their heart that will someday grow. Whatever the case, it's good that you can show them there IS a different way than what they know. And, just love them the way they are!