A main desire with facilitating this panel discussion was to be able to raise awareness of the realities some people have experienced and/or are living in today. To do battle with the mindset that 'people should just get a job...pull themselves up by their bootstraps...etc."
Let me be clear. We do NOT all start on even ground. These stories illustrated this very well. Growing up in families where abuse is prevalent is not the experience of all of us. Several of these clients had several types of abuse happen to them. Some from the very people they should have been able to trust, the very ones who should have been loving and protecting them.
One was offered sips of alcohol from four years old on...imagine what that developed?! Another was terribly abandoned in a moment of great need by a parent...some were beaten, some were sexually abused...and the sins against them go on and on.
Some turn to alcohol and/or drugs to cover gaping wounds and excruciating emotional pain. Naturally, this creates more problems. Sometimes even resulting in getting into trouble with the law, and then having a criminal record. Having a criminal record creates barriers to getting work. Addictions create barriers...and the pain of childhood and teen years also create barriers.
In families like these, life skill aren't readily available. Social cues and expectations are so different. Some drop out of school so they can simply survive, grow up and move out.
We do not all start out on even ground.
"And the servant who knows what the master wants, but isn't prepared and doesn't carry ou those instructions, will be severely punished. But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. WHEN SOMEONE HAS BEEN GIVEN MUCH, MUCH WILL BE REQUIRED IN RETURN; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required." (Luke 12:47-48. NLT).
You can imagine some answers when asked what gets in the way of any of these visiting any of our churches...and their pain and tears were evident in their responses....
Are they loved...are they even received...welcomed?
"Most important of all, continue to shew deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8).
Our sins may look different from some of these who made reactionary choices to survive...but that need not get in the way of LOVE!
While we may not all begin on even ground...we do know that the ground at the foot of the cross is level. We are ALL in need of a Savior! Knowing and believing that, let us extravagantly welcome these dear ones who feel unaccepted/unacceptable to churches...
"Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. ((1 John 4:7 NLT).