I was out running the other morning, passing groups of kids who were waiting for the bus on the first day of school. Lots of clean clothes and new book bags along with a wide variety of faces. Some were excited and some were, shall I say, not. It’s a new school year, a time to celebrate kids stepping into a whole new year. No matter how last school year went, every current Roughrider in this community has the chance to start over new.
That is an opportunity that many adults have forgotten a long time ago. I may have moved to Wayne Street UMC over a year ago, but I have been a pastor for over 20 years. I have occasionally gotten that fresh start in a new congregation, but that doesn’t happen to me every year like it does for kids in school. While many of them may not see it this way, they are now on a 9-month adventure through their current grade. They are going to look different, act different and be different by Memorial Day 2020.
The question I was pondering while running past these groups of students waiting for their bus was this: are we all doing our part to give these kids a good experience? Of course, we are all paying taxes to provide this experience for them. But the pastor in me thinks that our kids need more from us than just the financial backing for providing the school experience.
Are we all praying for these students? Have we asked God to protect and guide them? Have we asked God to be present in the school? I know that legally, we can’t take God there in an official capacity, but that doesn’t mean that God is barred at the door. We love these kids and we want the best for them. Does that love translate to prayer? Kids today are living in a world that none of us understand because it is so radically different than the world in which we grew up. I grew up in a house with a rotary dial phone that was connected to a party line. Many of our current Roughriders wouldn’t even understand that last sentence. I thank God every day that I didn’t have to navigate what today’s kids have to figure out – things like social media, the 24-hour-a-day schedules and the constant push of propaganda that attempts to pass as entertainment from the TV. I am 44 years old and I still struggle with these things.
On Wednesday nights at Wayne Street, I work with Phil and Leah Downs with our student ministries and I look forward to working with our new staff member, Jessica Skinner, as she works with your younger kids. We have some great young people in our community and we should want to give them every opportunity to be successful. They live in a world that frightens most of us, the least we can do is ask God to do for them what we can no longer expect society to do.
We have entrusted our kids to the excellent faculty and staff of the St Marys schools, who certainly need our prayers. It is an incredible responsibility they have accepted in helping bring up the next generation of leaders, movers and shakers. They deserve our support through prayer as well.
In a world with a screen in front of every face, an earbud in every ear and an expectation around every corner, it may seem old-fashioned for the preacher to be telling you to pray. Many may think that prayer has little to no relevance given the climate we are living in. Maybe that is true and maybe it isn’t, but this is what I know for certain. The Wayne Street UMC pastor is a 44-year-old man who is an introvert, who never liked to be the center of attention and has nearly debilitating stage fright. He was an average student with low scores in reading comprehension all through school….who now has a Master’s degree. I know for a fact that my ability alone was not sufficient to get me to this point. Who do I credit? A bunch of little old ladies in Alger, OH, who attended a small country church and prayed for the shy kid who came to church with his parents and his sister.
All I want to do is give another kid this same opportunity.