Many people would be quick to cast off the kind of kids we work with through OCC, rationalizing that it is too daunting a task to ask God to take back this culture of misogyny, hate, violence, self-gratification, gangs, drugs, broken homes, fatherless homes. At times, it is overwhelming, draining, heart-breaking, painful, dangerous, defeating, and scary. It is a fight to rescue these kids, and that is rarely forgotten and often felt. When you are out on the streets trying to speak truth into their lives and build relationships with them you realize more than anything what is stacked up against you. Even those who are believers and are walking out their faith still have to live among their peers and deal with the circumstances of life. How do we tell them to live in their world abiding by the rules we use to live in ours? What good is turning your cheek when there is a gun in your face?
For all the crossroads they endure, Jesus is the remedy. Most of these kids are steeped in generations worth of dysfunction and the road they are on will only breed more dysfunction. It’s like a thick, heavy, filthy muck weighing down the hopes of those that feel trapped in their world. But OCC believes that God is constantly in the middle of the muck. It’s a trait of God to do things in this world that only He could get the credit for doing. That when the life-scene is uncovered, only His fingerprints are there. The only Person who could ever clean up the muck is Jesus.
Here is why we can’t cast them off: We love them. Unconditionally. We desire to see their world change for the better. We want to see them be who they are with God consuming their entire life. We want them to know that they are smart enough to go to college or do whatever it is that they love; that they can choose a life that will keep them safe at night. We want to encourage our boys to grow up to be good dads, who love their kids and adore their wives; and teach our girls to be honorable women, who will raise their children to be honorable people. In loving and living out life with these kids, we get to celebrate their birthdays, help them study, bake cookies and paint pottery together, talk about making the world better, cheer them on at basketball games, show them a really great sunset…
We baptize them, teach them, and show up when they need us. We can’t cast them off, no matter how hard it may be at times, because it is with them that we meet with God.