August 1, 2008
Dear Family and Friends,
Ding-dong. Ding-dong. Diiiiiiiiiiiing-doooooong. On a regular basis Andrew and my doorbell gets a little extra love from an eleven-year-old named Demetrius, or “D. Reid” as he likes to be called. He lives down the block from us and also frequents our youth programs, but it is the many visits he makes to our front porch that has allowed us to get to know D. Reid.
D. Reid is eleven going on thirty. The second oldest with three sisters and a very young and somewhat absent mother, he worries and wonders and takes on responsibility and asks question after question after question. I have never met a more inquisitive child. Sitting on our porch he asks about home ownership, insurance companies, college and financial aid, electricity and generators, and anything else that happens to cross his mind and reach outside his ever-expanding sphere of knowledge.
So old in the way he speaks and acts, it takes really looking into his eyes to see the eleven-year-old D. Reid—lonely, naïve, unsure and desperately seeking guidance. It is this D. Reid who seeks out Andrew for advice and approval and who also falls into the company of other lonely young men lacking guidance, both things propelling him in different directions. And so it has been a summer of battles for D. Reid as he takes steps to do what is right and then falls back into peer pressure. Yet, if there is any kid that I am hopeful for (and I have hope for them all) it is for D. Reid.
Much of our summer program focused on the Gospel message this year. By the end of the summer the kids knew very well what sin is and why Jesus died for our sins. On one particular day we were teaching on Romans 3:23 (“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”) and D. Reid seemed particularly preoccupied and bothered during the devotional. He told Andrew he needed to talk, but soon rescinded and said he had figured everything out.
Later, after Bible Club was over, Andrew was mowing the lawn and I was doing some other chores around the house when D. Reid paid us a few more awkward visits. He finally could bear the guilt no longer and confessed to Andrew that he and another kid had thrown seat backs out the window of their school bus that morning and he felt bad and wanted to make it right. The Holy Spirit had been working on him all afternoon! He said he knew right where they had tossed them out and he wanted to go find them and return them to the bus driver. The three of us took off in our car on a mission to find those bus seats! Being hours after the incident and in a residential area, we were not too hopeful that we would find them but we drove up and down the blocks he remembered several times. We did not see them. Andrew kept telling him that whether or not we found them, he needed to make things right and D. Reid agreed. In one last attempt to locate the seats we got out of our car to search for them and amazingly someone had moved one of the seats off of the street and into an abandoned lot. D. Reid carried it to our trunk and we climbed back in with renewed hope to search for the second one. His breath was short in the backseat with nervousness and excitement, his anxious pants revealing the child making this man-sized decision. On a hunch Andrew drove down the ally and there was the second seat sitting beside a dumpster!
With both seats safely in our trunk, we drove home praising D. Reid for his choice to make things right and encouraging him to take the most difficult step yet, to walk onto the school bus the next morning in front of his bus driver and the other students with the incriminating evidence in his arms. He was going to do it he said. We dropped him off at his house and watched him carry the seats up his house steps. It was one of those moments that makes all the other moments in the day worth it. God is working on this young man’s heart! He followed through and returned the seats the next day, proving that his little boy days are coming to a close and his feet are beginning to walk the steps of a young man. The rest of the summer was not perfect for him. He continues, as we all do, to battle with making wise choices, but at that one moment I saw a glimpse of the man that God wants D. Reid to be and I was honored to play a part in the process.
It is for this reason that Andrew and I are here. Please continue to pray for us as we deepen the relationships made over the summer, and pray for these young men and women in our neighborhood who have so much to overcome, yet who have so much purpose for God’s Kingdom.
For His Kingdom, Andrew & Adria Medlen