One of our favorite things to do these days is sit out on the front porch and just watch our new neighborhood. Perched on white wicker furniture with pink strawberry cushions, we swat at flies, sip our peach milkshakes (we like homemade milkshakes ok?) and observe a culture in so many ways completely removed from everything we've ever known or lived before. Small children run through the streets at all hours of the night, cars pull up with their music blaring to solicit drugs and girls alike, dice games accompanied by loud jeering and shouting is commonplace, sirens blaze by, and occasionally fireworks or gunshots will ring out above the normal neighborhood din.
The streets are a fascinating and dangerous place in neighborhoods like ours, and we are quickly realizing how powerful a hold they have on those who inhabit them.
In the last few weeks, we have gotten to know a few of the teenagers who live in the house next door to us. Unfortunately, two of them were just recently arrested for burglarizing other houses on our street (thankfully not ours). We were telling one of the other moms that we've worked with for a while now about these boys and how they have been spending time on our front porch, eating freeze-pops and discussing Top Gun and Tom Cruise, and how sad we were to hear about the choices they are making. We told her how much we like these boys and enjoyed their company.
She asked us: "So you can see it in them?"
And that's just it right there. We can totally see it in them. We see the beauty and worth, we see their potential, we see who they could become . . . they just dont see it in themselves. And until they do, they will continue to make decisions based on the lies that their neighborhood and the enemy are telling them.
One of our 14 year old girls (who we are really close to) just revealed to us that she is 20 weeks pregnant, by a 15 year old boy who recently got out of juvenile for stealing cars. And guess what? We can see it in her too. She's beautiful and precious and has so much leadership potential. But she doesn't see it. She doesn't believe, deep down, that she is WORTH IT. And that's why she fell right into the trap that she needs someone to love her, like a man (boy really) or a baby, to be complete. But the truth is that only one thing, only one love, will ever really satisfy her. And until she sees herself the way her One True Love sees her, she will continue to let the streets steal her future.
So pray with us for our neighborhood, for our kiddos especially, that their eyes and ears would be opened to Truth. That they would see in themselves what we can see in them. And that they would live up to all the beauty and worth within them.