I’m often asked what will happen to Christ’s Children MInistries when I’m ready to be done (not that I see that happening for quite awhile yet). Will someone else carry on the work? I’ve always told our kids and young men that the most important thing you can do with your life as a Black man is to grow strong: spiritually, emotionally, physically; start a family and raise your kids. I’m inspired by what we see around us.
On my birthday I had some of our young men come over to help me celebrate. Some are in college and some heading there, some have gainful employment and others are trying to find it. All are alive and healthy with prospects and dreams. The question arose: What do you want out of life? What gives life meaning? Wealth and influence were commonly agreed upon, after faith and family. I was about to offer my opinion when one of them, the youngest of the group, spoke up passionately about what gives life meaning to him. He spoke of the desire to make money and earn wealth as a means of providing for family and loved ones, to enable him to pursue his personal goals in life… to prioritize joy and fulfillment before monetary gain. I found I had nothing to say after that.
Last weekend we had a basketball game at a park over north. While there I encountered two men who I mentored growing up, and who played on my basketball team as kids. Now they were each coaching their own teams, with their own sons in tow. As I watched them work with their respective teams, I was quite proud of how they handled the kids in their charge and taught them life lessons through the game.
I had lunch with a man who grew up as a part of Christ’s Children. We reminisced about old times and all the guys who came up with him. It was a rough group, but he and a couple of others became teachers. I volunteered in his classroom reading and telling stories to his fifth graders.
I brought some of the kids I do stuff with to a gym in our neighborhood where they run some afterschool programs. The young men running those programs were part of my afterschool programs when they were kids growing up in the neighborhood. They are doing for others what I did for them when they were young.
We have a teenager who is in trouble right now. He is in detention awaiting trial. Lisa and I anguished over him and wanted to be sure he was ok, but clergy visits are suspended during the pandemic. We remembered our adult friend who grew up in our ministry and is part of our church. He surprised us all by going to college after high school and getting his degree in criminal justice. He works in the detention system and was able to get word to our young friend not to give up, or lose hope.
Several of our young men stop by often with their baby children. Lisa and I love it. We get to play with and pamper the little kids. Lisa goes out of her way to love, nurture and encourage play. We model and teach nurturing behavior some of these young parents never received as children. They are good parents and in many cases are breaking generational cycles of dysfunction.
Every week I encounter young men and older, who were kids in our ministry, working in the community, raising children, providing leadership. I see our people, Christ’s children, salting the neighborhood and community and carrying on the work which we’ve labored at for many years in love. They carry on the work, men and women, in positions of leadership and influence, and, by simply raising families of their own. This is the mark we want to leave behind.
For every person who is in a good position in life, there was one that did not make it, one who is in jail, one who is struggling in the streets, one whose life was cut short. We remember the ones who are no longer with us, and we pray fervently in hope for the others. It’d be impossible to name all the young men who have come through our ministry over the years and who we have influenced. But I know that they have all experienced Christ’s love with us.
So I don’t worry about what will come after us… I can see it now and I’m blessed.