Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Hope. Our world desperately needs it. We all need it. We can't survive (I mean really survive) without it. We all strive for it. We look everywhere for hope. Many things give us brief hope. One thing provides lasting hope.

I know I try everyday to find fulfillment of that thing within in me that yearns for "more". Relationships with people, when they're going well, make me feel really good...for a while. But then then I still feel empty, even though everything's going "great". I try to gain recognition from my people. The enjoyment of praise from those few onlookers lasts about 3 seconds and then I feel more empty than ever.

I am a substitute teacher. At least I've been trying to teach for the past 3 weeks. I've had 1st-5th graders, special ed., and high school. I've seen all types of kids from seemingly all types of backgrounds. Wow! These kids are hurting. Everyone is hurting, if you dig deeply enough. And, you can see it so obviously when you look at children. They are seeking fulfillment in this life. They just want hope.

They really think they are disguising it pretty well. I know I'm only 22 years old, but I can see it in every one of their "attempts" to seek attention. The sad thing is, I can only imagine the hurt they have experienced at home that they are masking with their toughness or temper or talking or testing. It's unbelievable to witness what these central Indiana kids are dealing with. I've had multiple 3rd graders sing "Smack That" to me in class (a pretty catchy tune, I'll admit). I've heard 16 year olds discuss their drunken orgies they are still recovering from over the weekend. Today, a girl showed me how she's going to get a tattoo on the inside of her lower lip (Ouch!). I've been hit by a first grader. A girl named Raygen told me she loved me. Billy ate a piece of candy when I told him not to. Jasmine's ADHD was unbelievably out of control the other day. I've heard 4th graders hurl racial slurs at their classmates. I've seen a 5th grade girl bawl for 2 hours after she dumped her boyfriend at recess and he claimed anxiety attacks. Lots of that, in of itself isn't a big deal. It's all just behavior.

The point is that I see obvious yearning for hope beneath all of that behavior. Their attempts to be "cool" are crying out, "Look at me. Listen to me. Love me!"

I'm going to Russia in 12 days. We are hanging out with orphans for a week. Pretty far to go for only a week. But these are orphans. These are the neglected, the downtrodden, the ignored. These kids are thrown to the curb by their parents. (95% of them still have living parents --- and many of them can see their real "home" when they play outside in the orphanage yard)

Our mission: To restore some resemblance of hope. To reveal them to Jesus Christ. The man who provides that hope.

To hear what these kids are dealing with on a daily basis makes me cringe. Completely ignored. No physical touch for years. No food for disobeying. Embarassment. Harassment at school for being the lowly "orphan". Tons of sexual abuse. Infants don't cry anymore because no one comes to their aid. Where is the justice in that?

Yet, these three remain. Faith. Hope. Love. I don't know for sure what exactly all those words mean. But, I want to bring them to people. I want to try to live with those three words at the forefront of my life. Are we a living example of hope? Am I revealing hope.

Hope. It's the gospel.

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