As I sit down to write this my heart teeters somewhere between heartbroken and overflowing with excitement. You see there’s this kid, who has kind of stolen my heart, she doesn’t come around often because she’s “different” and the streets kind of have a strong hold on her right now, but when I get to speak truth, wisdom and encouragement into her life (which I DO NOT take for granted and consider an honor with all of my kids) she stops, she shares her dreams and her goals, she admits her shortcomings, she asks for help, she makes plans, she dreams big and smiles when I tell her that she can make those dreams come true, that SHE is the one who can take control of her life, and make better decisions. She smiles that smile that I love and she nods her head in agreement, she tells me that she knows that she needs to do better. But then I turn around for five seconds and she’s gone, they’ve taken her again, the streets have pulled her back in, they’ve made her believe that they are the only way. This sweet girl of mine has BIG dreams, she’s talented and she’s bright, but unfortunately there are others who have gotten to her before me, who have turned her time, talent and treasure into their business. She bumps her head to music from local rappers that are telling her the drug game is the way to go and that “Bum life” is the way of life, she finds her comfort in those who are “building her up,” telling her she can be a leader someday.
She tells me that there’s one thing in this world that used to motivate her and it’s to be able to play her favorite sport again, being able to play that sport kept her motivated, to not get in fights at school, to keep her grades up, to make an effort. The school she’s at now doesn’t offer these opportunities, there is nothing there motivating her, half the time they don’t even notice if she doesn’t show up for school. As she pours out her heart to me my heart and mind is stuck on the words, “Half the time they don’t even notice if I don’t show up for school…” to be honest I’m 36 years old and if people didn’t notice that I wasn’t taking care of my repsonbilities, I’d probably stop taking care of them, I’d probably stop showing up, I’d probably realize there is no accountability for my actions so I’m out… I wanted in that moment to tell her I care if she shows up, I care if she succeeds, but I’m not the one taking attendance everyday, I ‘m not the one getting excited to see her come into school. I’m not. However I can make sure that there are opportunities for her to succeed outside of school, I can find out what motivates her, I can reminder her that my kitchen table is open for homework help. I can reminder her that there is a plan bigger for her than she could EVER imagine if she would open her heart and mind too it.
So I am sure you can imagine what my next question was, well since you can’t have that opportunity what’s going to motivate you? And she looked at me with a look of confusion, and asked “Are you serious Ms. Colleen? What would motivate me? You would help me find something to motivate me?” I looked at how her face lit up and realized that my sweet girl along with all of my other sweet kids just need to know that there’s something better waiting for them on the other end, maybe it’s the chance to play a sport, maybe it’s a scholarship to college, maybe it’s a ticket to see a college basketball team play (which by the way would motivate her), maybe it’s the promise from me that I will do my best to find someone in the career she wants to pursue that she can meet (which also by the way would motivate her).
As some of you know we changed the name of Captivate City Kids Club to GEM program, which stands for Gospel, Education, Mentoring, because we believe that the Gospel changes lives, Education provides opportunities and Mentoring puts dreams in motion. As much I want my kids to hear the Gospel and know who Jesus is in their lives I want more for their lives, I want them to know that education is important and opens doors, I want them to know that there are people who believe in them and want to walk through life with them, so there is the part of the story where my heart overflows with excitement. Because you see God is allowing us to Change Lives, Enhance Opportunities and Help put dreams into motion, a few winters ago I sat down with my Pastor and my heart was feeling convicted because yes we were sharing the gospel and yes we were providing a safe outlet for the kids but were we REALLY helping them to enhance their opportunities or really nurturing their God given dreams?
As I poured my dreams out that day the idea of GEM was born, GEM was born for girls like “A” who need some motivation, someone who needs to know that someone cares if she succeeds, who needs to know that God has bigger plans for her than the “Bum Life.” As I have spent time dreaming about how God is going to use the GEM program, about how God is going to birth my ideas and dreams into reality, God is constantly sending me reminders of why He’s given me these dreams, you see the day I became invested in my sweet little neighborhood, was the day that I became invested in the kids who live here, in allowing them to find hope in their sweet little lives, allowing them to see that there is a world outside of their community, I became in invested in helping them to believe they are capable of amazing things.
I shook hands with “A” and promised her that I would do my best to keep her motivated, and I would also do my best to remind her on a regular basis that she is valuable, that she has a purpose and there is a church on her corner that wants to help her find that purpose and hope, I was reminded that I can give her “worldly” hope she thinks she needs but the hope she really needs can only come from Jesus. And while I will keep my promise to her to help keep her motivated and on track, I will also be constantly reminding her of the hope she needs to find in Jesus, and as I reminder her of this I will also be reminding MYSELF of the hope I need to continue to find in Jesus.
Would you join me today in two things one praying for my sweet kids as they find their motivation and their hope both in life and Jesus and praying for us as a team as we spread hope to our kids through the Gospel, Education and Mentoring? But even bigger would you also challenge yourself to think about where you need to find your hope? Would you challenge yourself to be reminded that you need Jesus in your life?