In 2009 after buying the cheapest house in Grand Rapids, an elderly man named Pete welcomed me and shared his burden for the youth, saying, “Somethin needs to be done for the kids round here.” Before I had even prayed about getting involved with kids, 3 boys trespassed into my backyard to play basketball. Instead of kicking them out, I began mentoring those boys and out of those relationships the ministry was birthed.
Eight years later, first I want to say thank you for your prayers and support. Secondly, I want to share how and why we continue to live out this mission that God’s given us to serve the children and teens on the southeast side of Grand Rapids.
God often calls his people to remember and we can’t afford to forget to respond to the voices we serve. For us, that’s children and they are a massive demographic with HUGE potential and specific needs.
- 1/3 of the world’s population is under the age of 15
- Single parent homes have increased 139% in the last 50 years
- Only 3% of church resources go to help children focused ministries
- Family breakdown’s far reaching impact (violence, addictions, and literacy) puts serious hurdles in the path of children, adolescents, teens…and adults…and communities.
Hitting a little closer to home and getting to the “why” of what we do, two years ago I did a map study of the kids in my neighborhood and here’s what I found:
- There are 1500 kids between the ages of 10-19 within a half mile of my house
- Roughly 1200 of those kids are not connected to a local church
- There are 17 local churches within a half mile of my house
- Currently it’s estimated that those churches are only reaching 300 out of the 1500
After being in this neighborhood for 8 years, beginning in 2018 we will be officially launching Community Kids – a grass-roots, organic non-profit. The goal will be to continue to deepen the impact that has been happening by empowering all the kids mentioned above. In this work, we’re driven by 3 main things:
- Love for neighborhood and believe in the kid’s potential to help transform the community
- Love for Jesus and His church; believing that Jesus is among the least
- Believing that we should be Christ-like to the kids and the kids represent Jesus to us
As a result of these things, when we serve we do it as if we are serving Jesus. When we listen to the least, we try to understand what they are saying. When a kid trespasses onto my backyard, we respond in love. When a kid asks to have another Bible study, we do it. When an elderly blind man and countless others say “somethin’ should be done for the kids round here”, we roll up our sleeves and ask for the Spirit’s lead.