Last Saturday I had the opportunity to attend an event at our church for Kingdom Builders. Kingdom Builders includes all the people at our church who want to invest in advancing the Kingdom of God. I’m not even sure I can put into words the impact that last Saturday’s meeting had on my life.
Our pastor, Rob Ketterling, shared his vision for investing in several youth centers, both locally and internationally. One of the locations he would like us to invest in is a youth center in Russia. I was startled to learn that the average life expectancy of an orphan in Russia is 30 years. They die, primarily, of suicide. The money that we invest would actually go for the purchase of land that will be used for a youth center for the kids to go to after they leave the orphanage. There were tears in my eyes as I watched the video of the Russian orphans, with little hope for their future. I told John later that it was a good thing he wasn’t there or I might have given all of our money away. (Wait a minute! He wasn’t there, what was stopping me? Oh, I remember, knowing that I had to go home again.)
I think some of my tears stemmed from knowing that there are children all over the world with less than we could possibly imagine. After traveling to China and seeing the children who are sent to school in the city for a “better life,” my heart just broke knowing that their parents, wanting the very best for their children, gave up really knowing their kids. And the better life they seek for their children, isn’t always better. In Africa, we saw children living in huts no bigger than 9’ x 9’, without running water, electricity, or anything to warm them in the cold winter months. Seeing these things changes your life. It changes how you view your “needs.”
Last Saturday our pastor shared a Bible verse that I had recently read but didn’t really think much about. The verse from Genesis 21:33 says “Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he worshiped the Lord, the Eternal God.” This happened shortly after Sarah gave birth to Isaac, their long awaited son. Pastor Rob explained that what Abraham was really doing was investing in the future. You see, the tamarisk tree is a very slow growing shade tree. Abraham planted it for future generations to enjoy. The tamarisk tree grows so slowly that Abraham would never be able to use it as a shade tree for himself. (Remember, he was already older than dirt by the time Isaac was born.) And that is what our pastor asked us to do – invest in the future generations.
I remember when my kids were little and I’d hear people say things like “I don’t want to pay for a new school, my kids are already grown. They did fine at the old school.” That would really frustrate me. As I write this, our school district is building a new auditorium. Would it have been nice to have that when my kids were there? Absolutely. It would have been way more fun to attend their concerts in an auditorium instead of a gym, but I’m thrilled that the kids coming up behind them will have that opportunity.
I guess my point is, we need to invest in the future generations. Whether you attend River Valley Church or don’t even go to church, you can still make a difference. There are lots of kids, and lots of projects to which we can donate or give of our time. We can’t just shake our heads and hope these kids turn out o.k. We need to invest not just in the kids of our small town or suburb, but in the kids of the inner city, and the kids around the world. It WILL make a difference.