Thursday, October 23, 2008

Life

This election has me tied in knots. And blogging is absurdly dangerous when it comes to talking politics. Here it is, forever in "ink," what I think regarding this election. I've said that I'm not entirely sure for whom I'll be voting. That's still true. (I'm leaning, yes.) But I may just bail on ever really revealing how I vote in the end. An act of cowardice? Maybe. But the truth is, I and you unfairly characterize people according to their political affiliations. Liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat, have become our politely cruel shorthand for dismissing what someone has to say. I'm struck recently by what I'm reading in the book of Proverbs, wisdom to guide us not just in how we vote but how we critically engage in the process and respectfully disagree with others. Verses like Proverbs 18:13 (He who answers before listening, that is his folly and shame.), Proverbs 18:15 (The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, the ears of the wise seek it out), Proverbs 18:17 (The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.) I myself am learning about what it means to be truthful in my characterizations, fair in my rhetoric, objective in my analysis, respectful in my disagreements.

In this election, protection of human life is of preeminent concern to Christians, and Christians are right to defend a culture of life in our country. I'm using my blog today as a platform to feature one such ministry doing this here in Chicago: Lydia Home.

We connected to Lydia years ago when we were members at Harvest Bible Chapel. I don't know exactly how it was that Ryan and I decided to involve ourselves in their Safe Families program, which is essentially short-term foster care, but in the summer of 2006, Juwuan came to stay with us for a week. His mother, a heroin addict, had gone suddenly into rehab. Juwuan (8) and his younger brother and sister spent the day at the rehab clinic waiting for someone, anyone to commit to caring for them. A state worker called in Lydia, and Tom Maluga started the placement calls. We agreed to care for Juwuan short-term until a more permanent home could be found for him. (Other families agreed to care for the brother and sister.)

Juwuan was a scrawny, agile boy with a wide smile and a tender heart. He was well-mannered and easy to care for. At the end of the second day in our home, he'd taken to calling me, "Momma." At the park, he could do a dismount worthy of Shawn Johnson from the swings. At home, he'd strap on Nathan's tool belt, take a wad of fake cash from the toy cash register, and saunter into the kitchen. "What needs fixed?' 

Juwuan left his home with nothing but a bag of dirty, old clothes: a random assortment of women's undergarments and over-sized t-shirts. He slept with the light on, and when I asked him why, he mentioned the nightmares. And the horror movies he'd seen.

His first night in our home, we put him and our kids to bed, and I curled up with a book in the family room. Hardly five minutes had passed, and I could feel his warm breath on my neck. I turned, and his crocodile tears started to fall. Awkwardly, I took this gangly 8 year old boy on my lap. "It's going to be OK." He sobbed and shuddered, and in this moment, I knew something of what it meant to be the hands and feet of Christ.

Juwuan left our home after a week. Others came (Jevonte, Jaylyn). Each has broken our heart in different ways. Each has taught us more about the love of Christ.

If you're in the Chicago area, would you consider taking a child into your home? Safe Families is experiencing incredible growth. Recently, David Anderson, the Director of Lydia Home, met with Mayor Daley who wants every Chicago police station and school and hospital to know about this program. This is a ministry to support life: life of the born children whose parents struggle with addiction, joblessness, poverty. Any of you can also support the ministry financially as well.

Find out more at www.safe-families.org.


3 comments:

Eddie C said...

Wow...my wife and I (along with our two year old son) attend HBC Niles and I remember being blown away when first hearing about the Safe Families program. Your post just rekindled a lot of what I felt God was doing in my heart during that time. Thanks for sharing your experience...I honestly feel that we could change our city in a radical way through this program. I just sent my wife the link to your blog post, and we're going to be praying it about it tonight. How awesome!

Carolyn said...

Jen, I thought of you last night. We had a baby shower for a friend who had adopted, and the baby was cared for by a Lydia House family from HBC who prayed for a family to adopt him, and our friends (and yours) were able to do so, in a matter of weeks! Incredible!! I loved hearing this gal share about Lydia House and it brought to mind this blog. I think it spurred on some others to look into it.
Hope you are doing well!

Matt said...

Powerful sharing, Jen, about Lydia House and the impact that experience has had on your family. And I know what you mean about people leaping up to rebut a point of view when the words have barely left one's mouth. Proverbs is such a great reminder of this overarching maxim: one mouth, two ears, use accordingly.