The group of us that attended the Reload conference in L.A. over the weekend actually represented three ministries — Aim Right, Prodigal’s Home, and Paradise Valley Mennonite. While we were eating at Panera Bread one evening, an elderly couple stopped to ask about our group. Caleb did the talking for us and explained where we were from [Phoenix], why were in the area [the conference] and what we all had in common [following Jesus]. “It shows,” they said.
Each registrant had the opportunity to attend at least three workshops and three general sessions. At the final workshop that several in our group attended, the room was packed. All the chairs were occupied, and much of the floor space was covered with sitters or standers. What topic would draw such a crowd?
The Messy Art of Helping Hurting Kids
While the mass of humanity in that room looked very different — Caucasian, Latino, African American, and Asian — I believe we had at least two things in common:
1. We know a lot of hurting kids.
2. We want to learn how to help them.
Much of the workshop covered the topic of abuse, especially what to do when a child has been abused, but that abuse has never been formally reported to authorities. Aim Right gets so many pamphlets in the mail about registered sex offenders that I used to throw them away with barely a glance at them. I’ve paid more careful attention in recent months, though. We received one yesterday, and the offender resides in a 4-plex where two of our Kids Klub families live. Since most children are sexually abused by someone they know and trust (93% of reported cases, in fact), it is often a neighbor, family member, or friend who is responsible for the abuse.
These are such hard, deep, painful issues that most of us came out of the workshop saying, “That was heavy.” A pizza party and a lock-in aren’t going to heal the gaping wounds that many youth carry inside of them; we need to be a safe place where they can share those wounds and find healing in Jesus.