""Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. In my Father's House are many mansions, if it were not so- I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." John 14:3
As a kid I was never afraid that a psychotic shooter would walk into my classroom and shoot everyone in my class. On Tuesday, May 24 an 18 year old mentally disturbed teenager shot and killed 19 precious children and 2 of their dedicated teachers. It is just devastating that the children in schools today must face this reality and that once a safe haven, schools have now turned into a war zone. Where have we gone wrong? Why, oh why must innocent children die? President Biden is correct when he said,
Another massacre. Uvalde, Texas. An elementary school. Beautiful, innocent second, third, fourth graders. And how many scores of little children who witnessed what happened see their friends die as if they’re on a battlefield, for God’s sake. They’ll live with it the rest of their lives.... Jill and I have talked about this in different contexts, in other contexts: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." So many crushed spirits. So, tonight, I ask the nation to pray for them, to give the parents and siblings the strength in the darkness they feel right now."
Of course Joe Biden does understand the depth of pain that these parents are experiencing. He lost his wife and daughter in a horrible accident several decades a go. He rightly talked about the horrible pain that leaves you gasping for breath and is a dark night of the soul.
Biden went on to say that the US is the only country in the world that these horrific school shootings happen! Was anyone else shocked by this? In the last 24 hours, I have listened to many possible solutions for ending school shootings. The ideas range from high new technology forms of security to placing retired veterans and police officers into every school in the country. Others say this just is not possible because there are not enough retired law officers to service all of the schools in the country! So, others say that teachers should be trained to carry guns and be prepared to stop intruders. Wow! This creates a whole new level of education and training for teachers. My parents were both school teachers, and I could never imagine either one of them willing to "pack heat."
I do remember my Dad, Robert White leaving his career as a public educator because the school administrators would not support him in carrying out discipline needed in the junior high metal shop class. Sad to say these same junior high punks threatened me because I was the daughter of their metal shop instructor. A year following this one of his past students shot and killed a young woman outside of a Dillon's store trying to get drug money from her. Perhaps for all of these reasons, Dad left public education and spent a year selling Fuller Brush products for which he did very well. It was also why my parents began building and teaching in Christian schools over the following twenty years.
All schools private or public have problems and need security in this day and age. Where has our country gone wrong? Where should we begin? I believe we must go back to a definitive moment in the history of public education. It began the day we forced people of faith to leave their values outside of the classroom. Our philosophy is "live and let live." We do not want to get involved in the lives of others. I am very thankful for those Christian teachers in the public school who see themselves as missionaries. They find those quiet ways to share their faith without public notice. God bless them!
Youth Core Ministries (YCM) is a ministry for youth that I want to commend. I worked for them for six years and these wonderful Christian men and women take the time to dig deep into the lives of troubled teens and just love on them! They show up for them! They walk beside them eating lunches at school, handing out donuts making amazing connections with young people who are so alone! Many of these have no other adult in their lives that have the band-width and capability to truly love them. I believe that over the last 27 years this group of disciples of Jesus Christ have made the difference in thousands of kids lives. YCM takes these kids to camp, gets them into small groups, and touches hearts that so desperately need their hearts and lives touched. What if Salvador Ramos would have been reached by the love of Christ through ministries such as YCM? What if they had loved on him and given him hope and a purpose for life? Could this mass massacre have been avoided? I truly believe it could have. Today, I want to give a shout out to Youth Core Ministries leaders: Deborah and Tony Factor and Joel and Jewell Williamson, Kyle and Kelsie Nauman, Jennifer Albright, Steve Hopkins and Patty Fox, Jessica Dill, and many more. These people are not perfect people, but as we all take a look in the mirror- there is no one in our midst who could profess perfection! But, they each express the love of Christ to kids who need them.
Today, Christian leaders are reaping seeds sown. We create youth groups that are only about the fun and the trends. We only accept certain young people in our groups - those that come from families like our own. Oh, we will accept anyone to a certain level; but if they really need serious support, we are relieved when our lack of attention for them causes them to walk away. The church is often not prepared to handle the influx of young people who seriously need help and support. I have heard church leaders say, I just do not have the time to get involved in the lives of these crazy kids. But, what if? What if we as the church of Jesus Christ were to take the time and take seriously the challenge of Jesus reaching the lives of kids who are loners, who come from broken homes, whose parents are caught up in drug trafficking, and who have been thrown into the foster care system.
I know there are many churches who do just that. And we all should thank God for them! Yes, disciples can only reproduce disciples if they truly walk in the love of God through Jesus Christ. Unfortunately there are just so many Christians who attend church and live a status quo life, unwilling to dig deep into a walk of faith and love. We must pray that these horrible events will wake Christians up to take a deep look at their ministry with young people and reach out to those who need mental health support- because as Christians we hold the key to mental wealth! As we walk with the Lord, we know that we have the answers to the ills of society! One can implement the seven steps of Good Trouble that I highlight from Laura Haviland's life and make a huge difference. Think about these for just a minute: 1) Become a friend to someone totally different from you. 2) Seek to understand with compassion and care. 3) Respect the rights of everyone! 4) Do not judge/Strip away labels and stereotypes, 5) Passionately promote non-violent change and action. 6) Seek out the truth, not talking points, and 7) Take a stand for forgiveness, sacrifice, and love even if you must break the law to do so. Laura Haviland lived out this life and served thousands who were desperate, bitter, and alone! How many lives did she save by implementing these steps to "Good Trouble." How many lives could we save today if we take the responsibility upon our selves to care for those who need us! Yes, we are the bearers of mental wealth- and as Christ followers, we have the answer for many who are struggling with mental health!
I am assured that those sweet little fourth graders were welcomed into the arms of Jesus! I am praying for the deep losses their families are enduring. They too need our love and support! But, I am also challenging the church that is the body of Christ to share the hope and love of Christ with those young teens who have no hope or love! By this we can share our mental wealth- and ensure mental health in the lives of so many young people who desperately need it!
PS. Please note that I am very aware that mental health is very real issue and we often need to refer young people to certified counselors and psychologists.