At the end of our meetings Children’s Activity Truck we have a time when we pray for the kids. Many of the kids need prayer for school to pass grades and tests. Some have trouble at home with parents who are drug addicts or in jail, sisters who are pregnant or fighting or abuse between family members or neighbors. But one prayer request seems to occur more often than others especially with the younger kids is, “Will you pray for my grandma?”
To our amazement we found that most of the grandmothers that we would pray for were people that actually have been dead for several years. We will ask the child, “Does your grandma live with you?” Their reply is usually as a silent look to the ground. Then we ask, “Where does she live?” Their reply like the first is to silently raise their finger and point to Heaven.
Why does a kid pray for grandma even if she is dead? I don’t have all the answers to that but the Lord has given me at least a few practical insights. In many homes in the inner-city the Grandmother is usually the head of the family. Because of drugs and violence a lot of times mom is in jail or unable for other reasons to care for her own children. So then that responsibility falls on the grandmother. In a lot of the homes I visit there is only one grandmother taking care of maybe two or three of her daughter’s children. One woman in particular, who is in her late fifties and wheelchair bound, is taking care of ten children living on SSI and Medicare. The house is wreck and the most she can do to bring order is screaming as loud as she can but as dysfunctional as this may seem to an outsider this grandma represents love, peace and security to the children and when that’s all you know and all you got that’s everything to you. That’s their point of refuge. It’s where they go when nothing else makes sense.
Also, children who are abused tend to regress and hang on to good memories or people who loved them or at least people they believed loved them. With all hell breaking lose around them and against them they find a point of refuge in their minds, if you will, to live in a place or a person like Grandma. So they pray for grandma even if she has been dead for several years. I think in some ways they want to know that she is okay and that they might see her again. Its heart breaking but I’ve seen kids of fourteen and fifteen sucking their thumbs and sitting in the corner. They too are living in the past afraid to go forward in life. But as bad as this seems these are perfect times to share the good news of Jesus and his love for them.
You see because children are largely dependent and need the help of others to live. They can easily understand the grace of the Gospel message that Jesus, the Son of God, died on a cross to save lost sinners. It makes sense to them that kind of unselfish love and they embrace it readily. The majority of adult problems are caused by the sin of pride thinking we know more than God and are quite capable of running our own lives apart from him. In simple terms we are just too head strong and stupid just to let go and let God. Most of the junk in our lives could be remedied if we did just that.
Most of you know that we have three bright yellow Children’s Activity Trucks that go into the inner-city on a regular basis. These trucks along with the people on them have become a regular fixture in the children’s lives in the neighborhoods, a symbol of something good and very wonderful for children against a bleak and decaying background of the inner-city. This ministry truly is something good in the neighborhood!
Each week it’s the same thing at the same time and the same place just for the kids. They look forward to seeing us as much as we look forward to seeing them. Every kid is greeted with a hug and a smile from a faithful worker who becomes their faithful friend. The formula is simple. Develop trusting relations with children and families through faithful obedience to God that opens doors for ministry, service and sacrifice. In all this lives are changed as the kids and their families believe the Gospel through people they have come to love, rust and respect.
The fact of the matter is that we are there for the kids after everyone else is long gone from their lives including their parents. There is a precious promise from God in the Bible that says, “Although my mother and father have forsaken me, yet the Lord take me up (adopt me as his child). Psalm 27:10. We are there pray with them when they are alone and feeling rejected. That my friends makes a lasting impact and changes lives. That’s what it takes and that is what is required if we are going to see a generation changed for Jesus, a generation that will find their peace and refuge in Him.