As I write these words, I’m still feeling a little shaky. The police just left our house not too long ago. Wait…what? Well, let me back up a little and tell you the whole story. It has been just a little more than three hours since my husband, Darren, and I arrived home from Denver after a truly heart-inspiring time at the All Generations Family Conference this weekend. But in the three short hours we’ve been home, I have seen more clearly than ever the need for each disciple to give our prayers, our hearts, and our energy to impacting the next generation for God.
So back to the story. After Darren and I arrived home from the airport, greeted our son, and unpacked our suitcases, we decided to go to the grocery store to restock our shelves (leaving a 20-year-old son alone for a few days can clear a kitchen pantry pretty thoroughly). As we returned from the store and pulled into our driveway in our car, I noticed that the door of our minivan (which was parked ahead, further up in the driveway) was opening, and someone was getting out and starting to run. We had caught someone in the middle of trying to steal our van! As I frantically dialed 911, my husband told me that he had noticed four other teen boys walking down our street, and that as soon as we pulled into the driveway they all started to run too. We quickly drove around our alley and down a few neighboring streets looking for the culprits as we gave descriptions to the emergency operator. Within minutes several police cars were scouring the neighborhood with bright lights, trying to find the would-be thieves in the darkness. My initial reaction to this whole episode was intense anger. How dare some kid come into our yard and try to take something that doesn’t belong to him! In fact, as we were driving around trying to find the boys who were running, we saw one boy who I suspected to be one of them, and I started to roll down my window, planning to yell at him (which of course could have been a pretty dangerous thing to do; thankfully, my wise husband sternly warned, “Put your window up!” before I opened my mouth). Instead, we just gave a detailed description of the young man to the emergency operator, who was still on the phone.
The rest of the evening was a blur of answering questions from the police officer who was filling out the report, and watching as an evidence technician looked through our vehicle, lifting fingerprints and taking photos. At one point, Darren was outside with the police while my son Carson and I were sitting inside talking about all that had happened. It was at that moment that it hit me like a wave. Within one day, I had witnessed two totally different worlds. Here I was being comforted by my amazing, loving, and spiritual son. I had just returned from a conference where I witnessed godly parents eagerly soaking up every bit of wisdom in learning how to love their children more, and to raise them to love God. I witnessed children singing hymns of worship to our holy and almighty God. I witnessed Kids Kingdom teachers and coordinators determined to find better and more effective ways to train children in their care. I witnessed youth ministers who tirelessly sacrifice their time and energy to help other people’s children come to a knowledge of God. I saw a beautiful rainbow of children of many ethnicities, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds playing together with the innocence and purity rightly endowed in the hearts of the young. Through the All Generations Family Conference, I saw and felt God’s awesome plan for parents and children and the entire family of believers, from generation to generation. In contrast, in my driveway I saw children without guidance; without direction; without hope; without innocence. As those thoughts flooded my mind, my emotions quickly changed from anger to deep sorrow. How am I so blessed that my children have had the privilege of being surrounded by people who love them and guide them into righteousness? (And I’m not talking about me as a parent; I’m talking about all the disciples who have loved and influenced them over the years.)
By the time God had broken my heart and opened my eyes, it was time to look outward. When Darren came back inside the house, he, Carson and I (and my daughter, over the phone, since she lives in Louisiana) joined together in prayer. We prayed that God would touch the hearts of the boys who had broken into our van. We prayed for their families. We prayed for their future. We prayed that they would come to know God. The whole crazy experience this evening has reminded me that there is a spiritual war going on for our children right now. As cities such as Chicago report staggering murder rates among teens, and teens throughout our world face serious issues such as drug abuse, self-harm, depression, and so much more, it is up to us as Christians to stand up for our children. It doesn’t matter whether we are parents or not, every child is “our” child, and we must put on the full armor of God and fight for their souls. The All Generations Family Conference was a major victory in this war. It was a clear call to arms. We will not back down. We will not give up. We will look to our all-powerful God and teach his ways to the next generation with all the energy and determination he provides! Thank you, Frank and Erica Kim, Sonny and Kim Rhyne, Steve and Vicky Bergem, the Denver Church of Christ, and all those who had the foresight and conviction to put this conference together. It was needed more than any of us will ever truly know.