My wife and I found out this past week about a young lady, 18-19 years old, that has lived in Arkansas with a man who is the father of her 17 month-old son. He has beaten her. She is trying to get out of that relationship. She is trying to get home to Virginia. When he found out, he put water in her gas tank. She has gotten help to get that fixed. A friend has come from Virginia to help her get home. This teenager claims to be a Christian, has been baptized, and is member of a Southern Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, VA. She has money that people have given her to help her get home. Authorities in Arkansas are going to garnish his wages for child support.
She is hoping to leave Arkansas for Virginia Beach on Tuesday. Some of the money she has been given to get back there has been used to live on while she has dealt with all the issues surrounding the father of her child. When she gets back to Virginia Beach, she has no real place to lay her head or that of her baby. She has very little family there, despite it being home. She dropped out of high school. She does not have her high school education. She has no job when she gets back.
Here is what she needs:
1. A place to lay her head and the head of her 17 month-old son.
2. People who will help her be a mother, and offer their lives to be parents for, in addition to offering child care
3. People who will help her get her GED.
4. People who will help her get her finances in order, like a budget.
5. People who could help her get a job.
We talk about going on missions, doing mission trips, and wanting to impact our world. Here could be an opportunity for you and your church. There are millions of people like this in our country.
So let me ask you a real serious question: What infrastructure does your church have in place currently to facilitate ministry to a person trying to transition from a destructive lifestyle to a life of wholeness? Could your church minister to a person like this?
Let me give you some suggestions, all of which we have tried to do in Delaware. However, because of the transient community and impact it has had financially on us, we have not been able to accomplish. This could be accomplished by a church, a group of churches in a city, or (if you are Southern Baptist) an association.
1. Buy a duplex. Use one side to pay the bills and the second for a transition home.
2. Put together a group of resources to help people learn life skills like finances, parenting skills, and even cooking, and cleaning.
3. Build relationships with business owners that could facilitate job opportunities for transitional people
4. Work with Christian counselors in the area that can help them deal with the junk life brings upon us all and that impacts our behavior negatively.
5. Develop a group of people who could be ready to help with child care.
6. Cultivate senior adults to be (grand)mothers and (grand)fathers, passing down wisdom
Maybe your response is that you don’t get that many people who need that kind of help. May I ask another, very serious question? Why not?
My wife and I have discussed this at length. We are hurting, because we want to help, but literally can’t. All we can do is contact people and churches who can. We have gotten someone to get her a hotel room wherever she wants to stop so she doesn’t have to make the 17 hour drive without stopping. Unfortunately, we don’t really know anyone in Virginia Beach who can offer her a place to stay or a job or even a meal. She has some friends she can stay with for a short time, thankfully.
Beyond that, we read in the Gospels about the ministry of Jesus with the outcast, hurting, and homeless. The salvation he offered included healing and wholeness, not just spiritual health. It was a totality of salvation, not one small part. We talk about a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name at the Fair or some big event. But what about a teenager trying to come home – home to wholeness, home to Jesus? How do we in our churches minister to people like her?
I’m just wondering…