Tag Archives: Children

— Together We Can Make Dreams Come True — Sept. Synchroblog: Christianity And The Immigration Issue

As Christians we have a duty to care for and protect children. We are warned to be careful in our treatment of children and challenged to see them as whole persons created in the image of God.  And so, as we ponder the Immigration Issue, one thing we must consider is the way our laws and policies impact immigrant children.

She was brought to the US when she was only 3 years old, today she is 17, a gifted student with a 4.3 GPA who will graduate in the top 10% of her class in 2011 … but she can’t get a drivers license or a job or make college plans or join the military – she has no hope of her dreams coming true. She is an illegal immigrant through no fault of her own.

More than 3 million students graduate from high school in the U.S. each year.  Most have the opportunity to pursue their dreams, but there is a group of youth (more than 60,000) who are much less fortunate because they have inherited the label of illegal immigrant.  These young people have lived most of their lives in the United States, most have no connection or personal knowledge of another country, and are culturally American.  No matter how smart, well behaved and hard working this group of young people are, they are caught in a system that offers little or no way for them to legalize their status and pursue their dreams.  Even if they are accepted by one of the higher education institutions that accept illegal immigrants, they are faced with having to pay out of state tuition rates which usually end up being too costly since they do not qualify for any financial aid. The result is a higher rate of teens dropping out of school, a higher rate of teens involved in criminal activity and a higher rate of teen suicides.

The DREAM Act could change all of that if it was passed.

The Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, also called the DREAM Act, would provide certain undocumented students, who were brought to the United States by their parents and have continuously resided in this country from a young age, conditional residency and a pathway to citizenship, provided they finish high school or earn a GED, and go on to college or the military.  Once they are proven to qualify for the program they are given 6 years to obtain a 2 year college degree or complete 2 years of military service.  Upon completion of one of these goals they will be given the opportunity to change their conditional permanent residency to U.S. Citizenship.

To find out more about the DREAM Act and how to support it go here.

Together we can make dreams come true.

This post is part of a Synchroblog, where a group of bloggers post on the same topic on the same day, so that people can surf from one to the other and get different views on the same basic topic. You will find links to the other synchroblog posts below.

Jonathan Brink – Immigration Synchroblog

Mike Victorino at Still A Night Owl – Being the Flag

Liz Dyer at Grace Rules – Together We Can Make Dreams Come True

Sonnie Swentson-Forbes at Hey Sonnie – Immigration Stories

Matt Stone at Glocal Christianity – Is Xenophobia Ever Christlike?

Kathy Escobar at the carnival in my head – it’s a lot easier to be against immigration when you have papers

Steve Hayes at Khanya – Christians and the Immigration Issue

Ellen Haroutunian – Give Me Your Tired

Bethany Stedman – Choosing Love Instead of Fear

Pete Houston at Peter’s Progress – Of Rape and Refuge and  Eyes Wide Shut

Joshua Seek – Loving Our Immigrant Brother

Amanda MacInnis at Cheese Wearing Theology – Christians and Immigration

Sonja Andrews at Calacirian – You’re Absolutely Right

Peter Walker – Synchroblog – Immigration Reform

Steven Calascione at Eirenikos – The Jealousy of Migration

George Elerick at The Love Revolution – We’re Not Kings or Gods

Beth Patterson at Virtual Tea House – What we resist not only persists but will eventually become our landlord

K. W. Leslie at The Evening of Kent – On American Immigration

Jeff Goins at Pilgrimage Of The Heart – When The Immigration Issue Gets Personal

Kathy Baldock at CanyonWalker Connections – My Visit To A Mosque, Now What?

Advertisements

Back To School Week – It sure sounds like a squirrel

A number of folks are blogging about the spiritual formation of children and youth this week – for info, see Brian McLaren’s blog for information on the “Back To School Week” synchroblog.

I have two sons who have grown up going to church … Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Choir, Mission Trips, Church Camps, Weekend Retreats, Youth Groups, Bible Studies, Concerts and so on.  All in all it was a positive experience.  They made some good friends, received the support of a large community, and learned to serve others.  They were taught a lot about God, Jesus and how a good Christian should live.  But, to be honest, I have some concerns about the spiritual education my sons received through the church.

Before I continue I should share a couple of things. First, I want to say that I have never expected the church to be solely responsible for giving my children a spiritual education.  I believe that Christian parents are mainly responsible for the spiritual education of their children, and my husband and I have been committed to that.  We also believe that there is much that our children can and should learn in a larger community of Christians and believe that the church is in a position to offer much to children and youth when it comes to their spiritual education/formation.  Second, I should share that our family has been going through some sort of spiritual transition the last 4 or 5 years.  We began to question some of the things that were being taught and some of the things that were happening.  We didn’t write the church off, but we began to take a serious look at “stuff”  – what we believed, why we believed those things and how it all fit or didn’t fit with what we knew about God.  In some ways, we tried to start over.  This process has left us with a more distant relationship with the church, and yet we still have love, respect and hope for the church as we continue our quest to be followers of the way of Jesus Christ.

As I look back on the spiritual education that my sons received from the church and, at the same time, look forward through the lense of what I have learned over the years about children, youth, God, Jesus and the world that we inhabit, today I offer just one thing that I believe would improve the spiritual education that the church offers to children and youth.

I believe that the church should be less concerned with attempting to teach children and youth what to believe and more concerned with teaching them how to seek for themselves.  They should be encouraged to be inquisitive, to ask tough questions, to listen to opposing views.

We all know the joke about the Sunday School teacher who was teaching a lesson about being prepared and working diligently….

A Sunday School teacher wanted to use squirrels as an example of prepared workers. She started the lesson by saying, ”I’m going to describe something, and I want you to raise your hand when you know what it is.”  The children were excited to show her what they knew and leaned forward eagerly. “I’m thinking of something that lives in trees and eats nuts …” No hands went up. “It can be gray or brown and  it has a long bushy tail …” The children looked around the room at each other, but still no one raised a hand. “It chatters and somtimes it flips its tail when it’s excited …”   Finally one little boy shyly raised his hand. The teacher breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Okay, Michael. What do you think it is?”  “Well,” said the boy, “it sure sounds like a squirrel, but I guess the answer’s supposed to be Jesus.”

Jokes are often funny when they offer a sense of exaggerated reality – but I’m not sure that this joke is that exaggerated.

Children and youth (and a lot of adults) quickly learn that there are expected and acceptable answers at church.  They quickly learn that they are not supposed to bring up things that don’t make sense to them – like why a loving God would insist on his son dying a brutal death because he was so angry about other people’s sin, or why a loving God would want people to kill other people, or why women can teach children and youth but not men – and if they do bring up such things, their questions will be quickly explained away, or they will be labeled a troublemaker, or worse … their belief in Jesus might be doubted and maybe their eternal salvation will be in question.  Church has not typically been a place where children and youth are encouraged to ask honest questions, to bring their doubts, to share what they really are really thinking.

I believe the church should teach children and youth that not only is it okay to ask tough questions, to notice and bring up conflicts in scripture and belief systems, to have doubts, to share honestly, but that it is the mark of a person who is serious about following the way of Jesus.  The church should teach children that spiritual growth leads to asking hard questions and although we may not always find concrete answers there is value in seeking the answers and sometimes the answer we find might be different than we expect, or different from what someone else believes. They should be taught that there is a possibility that a person’s beliefs may change over time and therefore, it is important for them to remain humble about what they believe and how remaining aware of the fact that they could be wrong about what they believe will help them maintain a more teachable spirit – being able to learn more from God, others and life itself.

In addition to teaching children and youth such things, we should also model these things.  Adults, teachers, leaders and pastors should share their own questions, that they don’t have answers for all of their questions, how they and someone else have different views about a specific interpretation of scripture, how they once believed one thing and now believe something different, that their belief is based on their interpretation but another person might interpret differently.

Finally, children and youth should be taught about living in the tension of having conviction about their beliefs in the midst of uncertainty and doubt and about the idea of seeking the heart of God even when there is not a specific, black and white answer to their question.

The bottom line is that the church needs to stop spoon feeding answers to our children and youth.

After all, if it sounds like a squirrel – it just may be a squirrel.

What do you think would improve the spiritual education that the church offers to children and youth?

——————————————————————————————————

Here are some other contributions (send me your link if I don’t have it here):

Beginning A Conversation

Educating Out Of Spirituality

The Wisdom Of Children

BACK TO SCHOOL WEEK: We plant seeds that one day will grow

BACK TO SCHOOL WEEK: The Coolest Adults

BACK TO SCHOOL: A New Way To Frame Science

BACK TO SCHOOL WEEK: High School and Doubts

BACK TO SCHOOL WEEK: School of Love

BACK TO SCHOOL WEEK: Intergenerational Classes

BACK TO SCHOOL WEEK: Key Questions

BACK TO SCHOOL PRAYER

Because You Care – Kidds Kids

I’m on a mission…

Kidds Kids is an organization that was created in 1991 by Kidd Kraddick with the hope of making a difference in the lives of terminally and chronically ill children. Each year, Kidd’s Kids offers five amazing days of suspended reality to children whose lives have been ravaged by disease. No hospital visits, no shots, no uncomfortable stares from strangers. Just five straight days of sheer joys and excitement at “the most magical place on earth,” Walt Disney World. Kidd’s Kids children and their families are given the chance to experience the exuberance of being “normal.” That is the gift that you and I can offer by supporting the Kidd’s Kids organization. Please visit Kiddskids.com to get a glimpse of some of these kids and their families and while you are there please make a donation to support this important cause.

My mission is to help get the word out about Kidds Kids.  You see, donations are a little slow this year, probably due to the economy.  The funny thing is that when I go out to eat, or to see a movie, or shop at the mall, or get a latte at Starbucks I still see plenty of people out and about, spending money.  Now I’m not complaining, in fact, I think that is a good thing.  My point is that we all have something we could give up for one week, one weekend, even one day that would allow us to donate to Kidds Kids.  Why?  Because it would just be too sad for one or more of the selected families to find out they couldn’t participate because there just wasn’t enough donations.  Because it may be the thing that helps a family get through the pressures and demands they are enduring this year.  Because it reminds these families that they are not alone and that gives them hope.  Because you care.

Click on this widget to go to Kiddskids.com