Options for Youth: Faith communities can offer many resources
As a minister of one of the churches in our county, I appreciate the opportunity to address the needs of our school-age children and some of the resources available to them.
I have been asked to share a little bit about what faith-communities can provide.
I think of four wonderful things that faith communities offer our children and youth:
• Faith communities provide our children and youth with a support base to keep them standing through the storms of life. Carl Conner shares a story that puts this in perspective:
"A few winters ago, heavy snows hit North Carolina. Following a wet, 6-inch snowfall, it was interesting to see the effect along Interstate 40. Next to the highway stood several large groves of tall, young pine trees. The branches were bowed down with the heavy snow — so low that branches from one tree were often leaning against the trunk or branches of another.
"Where trees stood alone, however, the effect of the heavy snow was different. The branches had become heavier and heavier, and since there were no other trees to lean against, the branches snapped. They lay on the ground, dark and alone in the cold snow."
When the storms of life hit, we need others who will stand close to us. Faith communities offer such a support base.
• Faith communities meet practical needs. St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Colusa provides an after-school program that provides exercise, snacks, crafts and homework help for a dozen fourth-graders who have been selected by their teachers. Many of the churches in Colusa work together to provide free meals three days each week (at the Presbyterian church) for families and persons in need. Celebrate Recovery is offered at the Presbyterian church every Friday evening as a means of helping people overcome hurts, hang-ups and habits. Wherever there is a need in our county, you will probably find a faith community trying to find a way to help meet that need.
• Faith communities help children and youth to gain a more compassionate and altruistic outlook. The artist C. Hoppe commented, "I hope that my achievements in life shall be these — that I will have fought for what was right and fair, that I will have risked for that which mattered, and that I will have given help to those who were in need, that I will have left the earth a better place for what I've done and who I've been."
So much of what goes on in advertising and in the media instills within us a greedy and self-centered attitude. But faith communities help to build within children and youth a more compassionate and caring outlook that will help them to make the kinds of achievements in life C. Hoppe describes.
• Faith communities help children and youth to make a higher connection. Faith communities help children and youth to connect to one who can be their strength amid life's challenges, to one who can be their peace in troubled times, and to one who can be their hope in times of despair. At one time or another, we all run into something that is too much for us, but faith communities connect us to one whose resources are limitless and whose care for us is endless.
Faith communities throughout our county provide varieties of opportunities for children and youth to get involved — including such things as vacation Bible schools during the summer, Awana, church youth groups, Sunday school classes, WyldLife for junior high students, and Young Life for high school students.
For more detailed information, call one of the faith communities near you.