This past weekend I played at an event supporting The Bridge in Lubbock, TX. I was so encouraged by what they are doing that I wanted to share some of it with you. They bought an old school building in East Lubbock, in the middle of a struggling part of town. Their mission statement is “With God’s guidance and grace, our mission is to RESTORE the foundation of hope, body, soul, and spirit, to our community, to bring community agencies and ministries together under one roof, to promote sharing resources to more efficiently meet the needs of those we serve.” And so they have many ministries inside this one building. Seasoned With Love feeds a couple hundred homeless three days a week. Tammie’s Closet provides clothing a couple of days a month. A side ministry of the clothes closet is a prom dress ministry. They take lightly used dresses and provide a girl with the opportunity to have a beautiful gown for prom. But the heartbeat of the Bridge is called Bridge 2 Success, where they enable and empower at-risk teens. In their own words…, “Bridge 2 Success (B2S) is a free Christian mentoring program for at-risk students in the 6th grade and higher. The goals of B2S are to mold students into future leaders through the development of their minds, bodies, and souls as well as to empower students to make better choices so they can become healthy, productive members of our community. We strive to give students the tools they need to recognize opportunities that lead to future success.” B2S is a two-days-a-week after school program and also puts on a four week summer camp. One of my favorite parts of talking with the students was to hear them talk about college. It was so encouraging to hear a student from a difficult background talk about their hopes and plans for the future and to believe that they were possible. You can find out more about this ministry at www.bridgeoflubbock.org. There are many ways to be a part. You can sponsor a kid to camp, donate a meal, be a camp counselor, mentor a student, donate clothing, take some of your time to volunteer. Or maybe their story will spur you to do something in your city, with a vision God has given you.
I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you to everyone who commented on my last blog. It’s something that has really been on my heart, and I don’t think it’s exaggerating to say you both encouraged and challenged me with your words. I can’t wait to hear what songs come out of these ideas, whether they are mine or someone else’s.
God also used your stories to make me very thankful for my church. Many of your comments reminded me of things I used to say. And thankfully, at my church, many of those things aren’t around any more. We do have deep songs. We do seriously approach God and who He is. We are learning how to love our neighbor. We can always use more of these songs, but I remember when I felt like they didn’t exist. I remember when I thought everything was fluff. So I’m glad God has brought me to a wonderful church home. Thanks to all of my family at the Stone. And I hope the rest of you are encouraged as well. God does continue to lead us on the journey when we are willing to go. And sometimes even when we are not.
Most of us who have spent any time in church have heard the verse James 1:27: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” We preach on it. We agree with it. We make banners and t-shirts. But I went to an adoption conference this weekend and it opened my eyes and my heart. Dave Gibbons asked us the question: if you were the devil and needed a plan to paralyze the church, what would it be? Maybe it’s not a huge direct opposition. Maybe it’s not a war. Maybe it’s simply sowing the illusion that we’re doing something when we’re actually doing nothing.
Is this what we’re doing with the orphan crisis? We talk about it. We agree with the scripture. All the while a half a million American churches leave a half a million kids in the fostercare program in the US. One kid per church would wipe out the need for fostercare. One family willing to love a child. What if one family adopted a child and 10 other families committed to be a part of the process? Maybe some families committed to giving an amount` of money each month to that family to help them with their bills, but also with the extra things like counseling that may come with a child from a difficult background. What if a few people committed to babysitting for that family a couple of times a month, so the parents could have time to still work on their marriage? What if a carpenter in the church came over and built bunk beds? What if we as the church invested in the raising of a child more than just providing childcare on Sundays?
19,000 kids age out of the foster care system every year with no place to call home. They hit the adult world with no family to go home to on holidays. What if we changed that? What if we used some of the energy we spend picketing abortion clinics, and took care of the kids we DO have? Dr. Karyn Purvis said that the first thing we can do for a child from a difficult background is to give them a voice. To let them know we hear them. To let them know we care. The first two years of a child’s life, all they hear is “Yes, I hear you crying and I’m going to take care of your need.” What about the kids who grew up and stopped crying because no one ever met their needs? I believe God heard every one of those cries, but I believe He may be answering those cries with us. We are how He is meeting their needs.
“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation,” Psalm 68:5. If God is a father to the fatherless and the church is His bride, then we are their mother. Every one of them in need is noticed and mourned by the King of kings, by our bridegroom. Every one. What will we do?