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Normally my blog entries are full of rather dense entries with my reflecting on something I’ve read.  Today’s blog entry won’t be like that, I promise.

Everything I’m about to tell you is public knowledge so I’m using his real name.  I want to tell you a story about a little boy and a marvelous family.  Danny is a sixth grader in our youth group.  He is the foster child of a family who have been long time members of the church.  The mom and dad have a reputation for being excellent parents, and I have observed this for myself in their other three children.  So really, Danny couldn’t be with a nicer family.  But Danny has a lot going against him.  He was adopted from a Russian orphanage, but the family that adopted him abused him by locking him in closets, etc.  So, he was put in foster care and this family from our church took him in, at least for now.

Now, don’t get me wrong Danny is not an angel by any means.  Last week at the end of youth group I had had enough of him, and when he gets wound up he gets out of control.  But the thing is that Danny is a child of God, who despite all the suffering that he has endured, God has worked in this child’s life to bring him through.  Right now, he is with an excellent family and he has found a place in our youth group.  I have “adopted” Danny so to speak when it comes to youth group.  I make it a point to sit with him during youth group, and to talk to him every time I see him in church.  He knows that I mean business when I speak to him (it doesn’t mean he always listens) but we’re working on things together.  

The first week he was in youth group Danny volunteered to close the group in prayer.  He got about two lines into the prayer and was praying that he could get over everything that had happened to him and he simply broke down in tears.  I had to finish the prayer for him.  But, last week he was able to tell the group about the abuse he had suffered without tears, and turned to me afterward with this huge smile on his face and said, “I did it!  I talked about my other family without crying!”  It looked like the kid had just been given a huge candy bar.  Even though the moment before and the moment after that I want to string him up (he was really acting up last week) at that moment I saw a glimpse of what life is supposed to be like, what kids are supposed to be like, because the whole group was silent when he was talking.  Dead silent, I mean really, dead silent, and that is saying a lot for a group of 20 middle schoolers.  They recognized that something special was happening, that a moment of transformation was occurring in this kids life and they could be witnesses to it.  Also, in Danny’s eyes I saw the joy of a child, and there is nothing better than that.  

Kids like Danny are the reason I’m in youth ministry.  You see, there are kids I love to work with – they’re the kids who read their bibles every day, pray often, and show up in church all the time.  Why do I love to work with these kids?  Because they want to go deep in their faith, they want to learn more, and they want to be disciples.  But the kids who really need to be loved are kids like Danny, who have been wounded and need to know that they are loved by a lot of people.  Frankly, I doubt very much Danny will remember me, and honestly that’s okay.  I know for a fact that I am making a difference in this kid’s life and helping him along, and that’s what really matters.  

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