It started out as a short morning walk down the green belt near my house. I didn’t know deep conviction was going to rain on my heart before I got home. I walk on this green belt several times a week and usually speak to the neighbors I pass. Sometimes it is a simple hello to a runner and sometimes I stop to admire an adorable child or a cute puppy. I might warn those I pass if I see a snake on the trail. That day I saw a rabbit and told the person behind me to look for it. I like to start a conversation if I am not in hurry.
At the end of the tree-lined trail I could see the black western sky. It reminded me of the color of the sky in Memphis the day the so-called Hurricane Elvis came out of nowhere. Even the local news stations missed the warnings. It tore a path of trees and power lines down the center of Memphis and many homes were without electricity for weeks. The wind was so strong the window panes in our house rattled. No one should be out in that kind of weather, so I warned the people I passed on my way back home.
As I rounded the corner and passed the little playground by the lake, a guilt storm hit me. I find it so easy to tell others to look for a cute rabbit or a half-hidden deer, but not so easy to tell them to look for Jesus. I find it so easy to warn them about a coming storm, but not so easy to tell them accepting Jesus protects from the storms ahead. These thoughts convicted me, but I still fall back into old habits. I need to form new habits of sharing the good news every chance I get.
Memphis has a long- standing reputation for crime, poverty, and racial prejudice. Churches want to change that. There is a synergistic movement of God’s people to take the love of God to the streets, especially to families with children. More churches are starting to adopt schools. Members volunteer by tutoring after school, providing supplies for parties, helping and encouraging teachers. Women volunteer to mentor young mothers. Christian college students move into inner-city neighborhoods just to share God’s love to their neighbors. Men volunteer to help young fathers understand that their children need them as well as their mothers in the home. Convoy of Hopes comes again for a second year to give food for families, games for the children, and prayers for all. Much work needs to be done and the movement is growing. Prayer groups meet through-out the county to pray for the city.
Giving Children Hope and Wisdom
What do the under resourced children in Memphis need most? First, they need food, clothing, a home, safety and love. They need the love of parents and they need to know the love of God. Without these things, their chances of building a better life for themselves are diminished, but still possible. Too many children live in single-parent homes or with other relatives. To them it seems normal not to have a father, but inside they know something is missing. Gods plans for families included a father and a mother. This summer a new group from Central Church in Collierville, Tennessee heads to the city to help the children. We start with Growing Seasons: Helping Children Heal from Divorce and Other Losses. We plan to add Empowering Kids for Life, a biblically based program that teaches children the dangers of life-controlling problems, addictions and dependencies. So far, we present these programs at Orange Mound Outreach Center and Serving in Christ Outreach Center. We hope to expand to other centers and to afterschool programs in the future.
What About Your City?
Are the children in the city where you live crying out for love and hope? Are they missing a parent? Are they being recruited by gangs? Are they becoming addicted to drugs? How much does that cost you? Consider starting a Growing Seasons or Empowering Kids group in your church or community. It is easy. Please tell us about the community where you live and what you are doing to help the children there.
On July 30, blessings came to the City of Memphis, Tennessee. Convoy of Hope rolled their trucks into town and residents of this city known for crime, poverty, and racial strife joined together to feed and pray for the hurting. While the thermostat read 102 degrees, fourteen hundred volunteers representing eighty different churches swooped down on the practically abandoned fairgrounds to hand out food and hope to more than five thousand people. No one saw color or class. No one judged others by their clothes. Everyone just shared the love.
Volunteers arrived early in the morning to set up tents for the different activities. Children enjoyed games, puppet shows, and jumping toys; such as such as blow-up slides and moon walks. Families received bags of groceries while volunteers gave free haircuts and created family portraits. Prayer warriors sent prayer requests to heaven. A job fair and health fair gave hope of a better day to participants.
The workers in the community services tent told families about places in town where they can receive help in their areas of need. I worked in that tent but with a different slant. We showed church members ways their churches can help children and adults through small issue-focused Bible study groups and we invited familes to participate in these groups at our church.
Let me tell you about Living Free’s children’s ministry and how it can help families. Many of those attending were single-parents or grandmothers raising children. They wanted to learn about Growing Seasons, small group Bible studies that help single-parent children; whether due to divorce, death, imprisonment, or abandonment by a parent. They also teach parents how to listen and respond to their children’s feelings.
Others wanted to know how to prepare their preteen children for the peer pressure of adolescence. We told them about Empowering Kids for Life, a program that helps kids turn to God instead of addictions. I encourage you to go to LivingFree.org yourself and see how their small group Bible study ministry is helping adults and children. Maybe your church would like to include some Living Free groups along with your other programs.
I want to thank Convoy of Hope for visiting Memphis. I hope the love and understanding shared in this city yesterday will last and grow. I also hope God will answer the sincere prayers lifted up for families. Thanks you Convoy of Hope.