For some reason I just feel like I should share this story, so I will.
So one day, a few years ago, I wanted to get a bunch of our guys to experience a church service. I figured "Hey, get out of your comfort zone, come see something different." People don't actually understand what it takes to get some of these guys out of their comfort zone. The world has usually been painful and scary, so going into unknown situations (especially when it includes white suburbia) are much bigger obstacles then you would think.
We make an event of it and I load up all the kids in the van and drive on up to the new church in town running out of a movie theatre. (I figured it was still a church, but wasn't a "church" building, so it'd be easier to walk into and not feel too weird.) So we roll up, experience a pretty normal church service with a welcoming congregation that was willing to talk to the boys (You think this is a small thing, but I took two big native boys to a church once where the only thing someone said to us was "Can you please take your hat off?" ...Because, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom, unless you're wearing a hat.)
So, we chat with some of those people, got to experience “church” but not in a “church” (which was awesome), and then proceeded to hang out together the rest of the day. This was actually pretty awesome and probably one of my favourite days in the last 5 years. I run a Bible study with a buncha super solid high school/university dudes and it gave them an opportunity to interact with this other demographic of kids I love.
And it went swimmingly.
This brings me to the point of this whole thing.
So at the end of the day, I’m dropping off all the guys and it’s getting late into the day where you usually end up having those solid chats. I’m left with the last guy (we’ll call him Tim for now) and I ask “Hey, what’d ya like/dislike the most about the church service today?”
So Tim’s been pretty hardened by a really crappy home situation, lack of support and basically learning to fend for himself way too long. He’s been around Christians so he’s not totally weirded out by some of the things they do, but I never expected him to say this…
“Man, I had a hard time focusing on the music and what the pastor was saying. I kept looking around and seeing all these guys holding their babies and I was almost crying man. I almost lost it but I didn’t want the guys to see it. Cuz, you know, that's something I’ll never get man.”
The nursery wasn’t active that Sunday, and the majority kids that weren’t in that nursery were perched right on daddy’s lap for a major part of the church service. Some were asleep, others were just enjoying themselves, but either way, it had this young man, hardened by a rough life, to the point of tears.
And I totally get it.
How much do you think the way you love your family speaks to other people? How much do you think your kids (especially your sons) actually need affection? How do you go out of your way to love people the way that they need to be loved (and not the way that you want to love them)?
You know, I listened to a sermon by Tony Merida about the parable of the Lost Son where the he explained the the phrase “threw his arms around him and kissed him,” (LK. 15:20) should actually be translated “Showered him with kisses.” Merida then goes on to explain, that our culture sucks at showing affection, especially to boys/men, and then we wonder why they are so emotionally out of touch and shut off when they’re adults.
Maybe he's right.
All I know is I watched a scary, drug-dealing, inner-city kid tear up when he saw men holding their children.
And I know a lot more kids that feel the same way.
Heck I know men that would feel that way, they’d just never say it.
I’m glad that I know God as a loving Father. I hurt for those that don’t, and I see the pain and decisions that come from that reality everyday.
Pray for those that need a Father.
And the little boys (and girls) that need Him.
Because behind every “hood-rat” there’s a scared little boy that learned to fend for himself instead of resting in the security daddy should have provided.
Stats from https://thefatherlessgeneration.wordpress.com/statistics/