My Personal Thoughts, Mission and Challenges for Our Churches and Society.
As a public school teacher for 36 years I am always reading and hearing about reasearch and staticstics. I know that you have heard information that it is cheaper for society if we educate and train ALL children from birth through their beginning of school, than it is to pay for adults who are in jail, mental facilites, rehabilitation programs, court costs and all the man/woman power it takes to to run all these programs. There are also all those adults who commit crimes, breakins, etc. and just plain don’t know how to survive an any other way and some of this happens just because those that they look up to don’t know anything themselves any other way to live.
What if we could change this, even in just some small way for those we could reach? Remember when you talk to young children and ask them what do they want to be? None of them ever ssay I want to be a drug dealer or I want to break into people’s houses to get things to sell to get money for food for my family. Children have such dreams. So when do these dreams change?
Again, research shows that children begin to change when they go to school and are not prepared. These children fall farther and farther behind. As a teacher from elementary school through high school, especially dealing with children with disabilities all these years, I see this everyday.
What can we do as a church and community? I have recently become aware of many programs offered by Harnett Co.Family and Consumer Services which is part of the Agricultural Program of Harnett County and NC State University. I am excited about these programs. The Teens as Parents (TAP) works with teenage girls who are pregnant by preparing them to be young parents and helping them to start taking a new direction in their lives for themselves and their children. Parents as Teachers (PAT) works with parents of children from birth through Kindergarten entrance to help prepare these young children to be ready for school and provide at home opportunites for teaching parents how to teach their children. Parent Educators go into the homes, evaluate the children to see where they are developmently and suggest things parents can do to get these children ready for school. I am amazed at what these and other programs offer. And I truly believe that young children and parents are where we need to start. As a grandparent of a 3 year old, it breaks my heart to think that so many of our babies and preschoolers in our county/community don’t have even the simplist opportunities that other children have. They will never be “school ready” and will always be behind. WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THEIR YOUNG DREAMS WHEN THEY CONTINUALLY FEEL LEFT BEHIND IN THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM?
Do you know that there are a great amount of children who never experience going to church. I have 18 to 20 year olds in my class at school who don’t have Bibles and have never read them. Can you imagine how many young children don’t even know what church is about much less have a little Bible of their own. As Christians we must do the things we can to help our your people continue to have the hope that they can accomplish their dreams and have a life filled with hope. We need to do what we can to show them the love of God and the people of God.
So how can we as Christians and Commnity members help? First we have to see beyond ourselves and know that we can make a difference. How many people do we come in contact with everyday? Can we invite them to church, many times, because you know most people don’t come on the first invitation. Can we offer to bring their children to church when they can’t come. Can we invite them to Bible school and even pick them up. Bible school is only 6 nights out of our week. Can we tell them about county programs that may be helpful to them? Can we do this many times? Can we support programs for children and youth by volunteering. Can we never give up because we don’t see any changes? There may be changes in people that we never see. We may never know the difference we may make in someone’s life.
These thoughts have been on my heart for quite some time. By sharing maybe others will feel it in their hearts to join the effort. Our children are our future. Young children can’t help it if their parents can’t provide extras for them. Let’s see what we can do as Christians help the least of these by restoring the hope and dreams of our children before they lose them. It will make the world a better place for all of us. Let’s spread God’s word. Ask someone at church how you can help with church programs or offer suggestions for new church ideas, etc.
For information about Teens as Parents, Parents as Teachers and other programs offered in the county, for services or to volunteer, call Harnett County Cooperative Extension, 910-893-7534
Some churches offer places for these groups to meet in various areas.