Tag Archives: love

My God is Father to the Fatherless.

Yesterday my roommates and I sat in our living room talking about how wonderful our fathers are. Talking about some of the loving things our fathers have done for us. Talking about how grateful we are to have our fathers. It was a bittersweet conversation, it was driven by the knowledge that so many of the children we love are growing up without knowing their fathers.

The first summer I was at Camp Peace one of my boys asked, “How many times have you seen your dad?” As if it was a typical getting-to-know-you type question.  I’ve seen my dad nearly every day of my life.

A little while before I moved to Victory the father of one of our ten year olds died. He was in Jamaica and I don’t think the boy actually knew him.

Yesterday Pipes was talking to another of our ten year old boys. She told him he was an amazing leader, and she told him that he surely knew himself, “I don’t know myself… I don’t know my father…”  His father passed away when he was four. They talked awhile about how God is our father, “I know that God’s my father.” he told her, “But it’s just different to have a physical father.

He’s right.

And we just can’t understand.

One day we listened to a song for a presentation.  That song told a very meaningful story: A women has a child only to have the father claim it isn’t his and leave. The child grows up and starts living the same type of life that his father had.

The father sees a young man on his turf and tells him to leave, the boy does not budge.

Instead he pulled out a newer thirty-eight snub
He clearly had the drop but the boy just paused (hold up)
There was somethin’ in this man’s face he knew he seen before
It’s like, lookin’ in the mirror seeing himself more mature
And he took it as a sign from the almighty Lord
You know what they say about he who hesitates in wa
r”

So the story ends with the father unknowingly killing his own son. Not something that’s likely to happen.

But there’s so much truth in it. One of the last lines is: “Be a father, you’re killing your sons.”

Later that same day Pipes handed me an ear bud to listen to the song “Best Day” by Taylor Swift. It’s a story as well. A story about how a dad who was there her whole life making every problem melt away, just with his presence. That’s a story I can relate to.

I couldn’t get over the contrast between the two songs.
I can’t get over the contrast between the way I grew up and the way they’re growing up.

We pray that when these boys grow up they’ll end the cycle.
They’ll be great and godly fathers who are present in their kid’s lives.

Only God can end cycles of sin and hurt and injustice.
So mostly we pray that these boys will find Him in a real and powerful way.

That He’ll teach them what a true and loving father is.

Happy Birthday Daddy. Thanks for being a godly father who's always there for us. I know you miss your dad today, I miss Papa too. But I'm thankful for the great dad he was, and for the way he raised you up as a man of integrity. I love you Dad, see you in a couple weeks.

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I guess I forgot…

…how easy it is to fall in love with a group of amazing children.

I wonder if I’ll ever run into a group of children that I wouldn’t label ‘amazing’. I suppose if God continues to give me His eyes for them… well He made them amazing didn’t He?

Yesterday Pipes and I went to pick up three kids from their school. One of them said he wasn’t feeling good so we brought him home, while leaving the community we ran into three of our kids going in the wrong direction. The sillies were confused and thought that there was no camp. So we turned them around and all walked to camp together.

I was walking with a little girl. A rough and tough little girl. She’s actually really sweet, in the right there under the surface kind of way. She told me that she’d been yelling too much so her voice was really quiet, so she wouldn’t be as loud as usual. We agreed that we’d get water when we got to camp. Then she told me that our shoes matched, they were both checkered:

“Yours are black and orange checkers, and mine are black and white checkers, and I’m black and you’re white!”

I concluded that we would have to be checker buddies.

Later I got to help a little grade 4 boy with some math homework. He was just as into math as I’ve always been. Not at all. He didn’t really get it. I can remember that frustration, I told him about how I used to cry as my mom tried to help me with my math when I was little. He worked hard. I’m proud of him.

We split up into boys and girls and taught the story of Daniel and the Lions Den.

When camp was over one of my boy’s basketballs was locked in the storage room so I got it out for him then we started to play. If we’d been keeping score he would have beaten me, but we weren’t. When his dad came I ran over to give him a letter and introduce myself. The little guy was reprimanded for not being ready when he knew what time his dad would arrive. I told his dad it was probably my fault, his son was helping improve my basketball skills. He was a really nice guy. It was neat.

It was just a neat day.

One of those days filled with ‘moments’.

The special kind.

Victory kids are great. As we debriefed after camp we would be talking about how a certain kid did that day and then I’d look around and we’d all just be smiling to ourselves. Really, you would just say the name of any kid and you could see the love on everyone’s faces as they thought of that child’s little quirks and behaviours.

God’s been working in my heart towards Victory for quite awhile actually. On that awful day when the four AP interns sat together and heard the news of our camps closing the only thing I heard that I could feel peace in was that I was at Victory. I can remember, “Yeah, I love Victory. If it’s not Peace it has to be Victory.”

I thought at first that it would be discouraging watching how the kids are closer to the Pipes and Johannes. Pipes having been there over a year and a half and Johannes since October. Really it’s just a natural reminder that I can love these kids, but I put my time into another group of kids too.

I’m learning to stop worrying about it all and to just do my best in the place God has put me.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. -Colossians 3:23-24

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All You Need.

2. Love
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
-1 John 4:16

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Does He put it on a shelf?

I was three. It seems I’d been pondering this awhile. I was told that I should give my heart to Jesus. Now I wanted to know what He was going to do with it.

If I give my heart to Jesus, does he put it on the shelf?

Well that’s what my mother says I asked. I don’t remember what she answered, probably nothing too complicated. I was three.

Still her answer was enough assurance for me. I decided I would gladly give my heart to the one who had made me and loved me so much.

You can tell me I was too young to make that decision, but I stuck with it. So you would be wrong.

Whereyousatitdown copy

This time last year I was going through some tough stuff. I can remember sitting on the corner of my mom’s bed as she told me to make sure I was guarding my heart. Judging from the heartache I experienced I’d have to say I didn’t listen very well.

I was listening to the song All I Can Say by David Crowder Band not long ago and I realized something. When I was trying to deal with all that hurt I knew in my head that God wanted to comfort me. But in my heart I saw him staring down at me shaking His head and saying, “I told you so.” I kind of figured that He knew I deserved it, so He didn’t mind that I hurt.

As I listened to that song I realized that not only did He care immensely but the whole time He was crying with me.

I thought you might need to know… He’s crying too.

I didn’t notice You were standing here
I didn’t know that
That was You holding me
I didn’t notice You were cry’n too
I didn’t know that
That was You washing my feet

Listen to the rest here: All I Can Say – David Crowder Band

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Pray for those who persecute you.

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 

-Matthew 5:44

love

 

I haven’t often had trouble with loving others. By God’s grace I just tend to love people. When my apartment was broken into I wasn’t angry. I was able to think of the people who broke in as people, broken people. Why would I be angry, I’m here to serve the broken aren’t I? It saddens me when people make wrong choices, but it doesn’t change the fact that my God loves them like crazy. I want to love with His love.

So I guess this is why God has been working so hard to break up the bitterness I’ve been feeling towards another downtown community.

It started in my apartment sitting around with the Jane and Finch interns and one of the Victory street leaders, Prophet. Prophet was pointing out all of the little ‘hoods’ that surround us. He said that Jane and Finch isn’t really the most dangerous place in Toronto. There are just so many little ‘hoods that are all labelled “Jane and Finch” that it just looks like everything is going on here. He then told us which neighbourhood he thinks to be the worst. I’d never heard of it so I wrote the name down in my notebook planning to look it up later.

The next day David, an intern who works with the Youth program, told me about a shooting that had taken place in our community.

When I was home for Thanksgiving I made Ronnie open his letter from Urban Promise so I could see it, our executive director explained what happened in that letter as told by one of our youth: “She explained how young men from another community came into the community and smeared mud on the mural of a young man they had murdered a couple years prior. These youths then proceeded to ‘shoot up’ the community and a young man from the block was now in the hospital as a result of the shooting, fighting for his life.”

Well when David told me the name of the rival community it gave me chills. I’ll give you a hint: its name was written in my notebook.

He told me that that was the reason that the kids hadn’t been hanging around outside as they usually would be. They were scared, or at least their parents were. I thought of how empty the community had been, and how much I’d missed the sounds of children at play. It gave me an awful feeling.

A few days later I got a call from the intern director giving instructions about the activity we would be doing that night. We’d be walking around downtown with a group from the Salvation Army, learning about the things that go on in the streets of Toronto.

He told me which community it was by. My mind went back to that notebook and I told him, “I don’t like that name much right now.” He gave me a lecture starting with “Now Rumour,” and then going on to tell me that it wasn’t fair to dislike these people just because they’d wronged us, it wasn’t a one sided fight.

The next night I found myself with a group that loved this community just as much as I love mine. Together we walked along stopping and praying for this community. I didn’t feel great about it, there was a mixture of feelings inside of me. I understood that these people were broken just like those I serve, but my heart was still heavy with the idea of my kids being afraid in their homes. I thanked God for bringing me to a place where I could pray for these people. Throughout the night I saw a lot of sad things and prayed for a lot of broken people. I realized that I need to pray for my big brother more. I learned a lot. My heart broke a little.

Ever since God’s been causing this community to show up everywhere I look, from when I’m at an art exhibit with friends to when I make Ronnie open his Urban Promise letter for me. I guess it’s not enough to pray for my community, this whole city needs healing.

So pray for healing in Toronto. Pray for healing in my community. Pray for healing inside of me.

What an awesome God we have.

“I give you peace, the kind of peace that only I can give. It isn’t like the peace that this world can give. So don’t be worried or afraid.”

– John 14:27

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Go and do Likewise.

Every Tuesday morning we have morning worship with the Urban Promise staff. It’s a day that I look forward to all week long. This morning we learned about our new Vision Statement, it’s simple but it says a lot:

Reach a Child – Raise a Leader – Restore a Community

I love that God uses the little things that we’re able to do through Him for His greater plan.

One of the young leaders that I was blessed to lead this summer has decided to come back to work for After School program. When he walked in the room today he looked up on the board with all of the councillors names and read a name off. One of our volunteers this year has come back after volunteering at our camp years ago. He recognized the name.

This is one of the councillors that had an affect on him when he was a child.

Now he’s back make a difference in other kids lives.

Later in the day another young man came into camp. My first summer working with Peace Kids he was one of the oldest boys. After that summer he was too old to come back to camp. His little sister is with us now and he’s been showing up to visit and help out. He’s far too young or I’m sure we’d hire him right now. He’s a great leader.

God is so good. It’s so exciting to think of the amazing plans He has for each of these kids.

                                             changed

"And I think that’s what our world is desperately in need of – lovers, people who are building deep, genuine relationships with fellow strugglers along the way, and who actually know the faces of the people behind the issues they are concerned about."

— Shane Claiborne (The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical)

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

-John 13:34-35

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