He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isa. 40:29–31)
I clocked out at 5:02PM, keying in my PIN number and making my way out of the office. I headed toward the double doors and opened them, walking toward my car. I looked down the sidewalk, and saw a picture that has resonated with me every day for a month now.
It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary or exceptional. Just a boy and a girl on either side of their mother, holding her hands, making their trek out of the Western Heights Boys and Girls Club and toward what they call “Home,” and what we call “Project Housing.”
I felt almost guilty unlocking my car. I looked down at the book in my passenger seat, the CD’s that line my car doors, knowing I’m going home to a good and healthy hot meal and will be watching Netflix later that evening.
Maybe it wasn’t guilt I felt. Maybe, for a split second, I got a sense of just how desensitized I was to the situations of others around me. The lessons mostly came in little moments, like watching the kids walk the hill, or when I mentioned Starbucks and one of my older students said, “What is Starbucks?”
This was only the beginning of God’s important reminders to me over the course of October.
Tion and Tionna, the twin siblings I saw walking the hill that day, are two of my regular tutoring students. They love doing their homework with me. It’s sweet. And they’re getting smarter week by week. But there is so much brokenness there, not only in their lives, but in the lives of every single K-5th kid that comes through the big blue doors.
One of the kids has expressed feelings of suicide at school before, saying how tired he is of growing up in the projects and not having a dad. Another talks about her dad getting out of jail “hopefully soon.” One girl told me she wished I was her dad.
Fatherlessness, whether gone or emotionally absent, is one of the most devastating things these kids face on a daily basis. Despite all of our socioeconomic, racial, and cultural differences, it’s the sense of fatherlessness that is just so starkly in contrast to my experiences.
It hit me like a ton of bricks when I thought about it. Here I am, frustrated and nearly mad at God for the inconvenience of buying a new car (read: able to purchase a nice SUV comfortably). I’m exasperated at my the uncertainty of the future, where we will live, when we will start a family. These are my “issues.”
I have no clue what it means to face “issues” like these 8-year-olds who have no Daddy, and don’t know their Heavenly Father, either.
But there is hope for the hurting. I rest in the promises of God when He tells me in His Word that He heals the brokenhearted, that He will replenish the strength and energy of the youth, that He will give abandoned children a Home with Him. I’m grateful to play a tiny part in watching Redemption unfold in the lives of these precious kids.
Sure, I would welcome your prayers for Hannah and I as we enter a very intense and real season of discerning God’s calling in our lives, but I would ask you first, would you pray for these kids? Pray for sweet Morysa, who doesn’t yet understand how her parent’s impending divorce is a bad thing. Pray for Tion and Tionna, who need male leadership in their lives. Pray for zany Caleb, who loves to read whatever he can find. Pray for Ariana, whose smile lights up a room. Pray for Shymira and Shynia, who just want to be told that they can do it. Pray for Ayden, who is starving to be known, and loved. Pray for Destiny, who is afraid of discipline. Pray for Germany, who is a smart and talented kid who shouldn’t waste his potential. Pray for Demetrius, who hides his longing to belong behind mischief. Pray for the many more. These kids need fathers. And mostly, they need the Father. All other wants and longings do not compare.