Last week, I listened to an informal talk given by President Obama to students and faculty at the state university down the road from my house. In that talk, President Obama cited something that is not new news, not political… just a function of reality:
The younger a child is given a “leg-up” academically, the more likely they are to succeed as an adult.
President Obama mentioned some good simple solutions like identifying single parents and providing inexpensive care packages that amounted in most cases to a few pieces of paper with some good advice and practical ways to follow through with teaching children through games and activities, etc.
This got me thinking of the boys and a few girls from the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. While America is thinking through these very good steps of developing her youth, many children a world away are facing a completely different reality.
Picture mothers intentionally starving their children in hopes that the malnourished child will draw the attention of white skinned travelers. Imagine 3, 4, and 5 year old children being sent out to the streets to beg for bread. Think of children from the time they are infants and some even into their teens being cast to the streets because their mother’s new man does not want to be responsible for them. Picture a place where surviving to the ripe old age of 10 or 11 means you are probably going to make it, even if that means you are also probably going to be subjected to all sorts of horror. Imagine waking up to the reality that bedding down in a dangerous part of town is better than the abuse you have experienced inside your slightly better home. Imagine lying on a bed of muddy curbside begging God to give you a Mom or Dad to replace the one disease or abuse has stolen from you.
It is this vision that haunts me, and it is the dream of what could be for these children that inspires me.
What if, on the other side of the globe, the current generation was mentored into becoming Daddys who would mentor their children into becoming Daddys? What if the cycle was broken for a few, who had a vision to break the cycle for a few? What if men and women of courage stepped into these children’s lives and showed them they have a Creator Who loves them? That they posses value, and beauty, and talent, and the capacity to do or be anything?
What if these children were given a “leg-up” in the many areas they need it? How might they succeed?
“Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”” (Luke 18:15–17, ESV)
I honestly don’t have all the answers as to how to see this happen… I have just laid my head on a comfortable pillow and mourned for these children too many nights not to try.