From time to time I hear someone state a preference for prevention work with children over rescue and recovery with adults. E.g. something like, “It’s better to help children before it’s too late.” It is a very understandable perspective. And of course prevention is right and all-important. But is it better?
Say you commit to sponsor a child, age two. You plan on staying with that child until adulthood, in other words 16 years. Now, if it also takes years and significant money to help an adult to health, one who was never properly parented or taught, is that not just as worthwhile?
Ultimately, we would rather look at this question another way. Ministry like Jesus is best managed by incarnation, not issues. As Jesus became flesh, we believe it is best to move into a community and seek to be like our neighbors, learning to enjoy their food, their music, and understand their jokes. We invite our neighbors into our homes.
We meet children who are being poorly parented, and get to know their parents, or sometimes grandparents. We seek to love and bless them in any possible way to earn their trust. Some, drawn to God’s unconditional love, begin to trust Him and change. They begin learning about raising their children safely and positively.
If the children are clearly unsafe, we take steps to move them to another setting, but without dropping the parents. Recognize their shame in being unable to parent, usually because of addictions, we work to keep letting those parents know their value.
Right now The Well is moving to more and more of a community focus, so we are excited about seeing this happen in a bigger way, Lord willing. The principal of a local school has agreed to start a partnership where we visit families of kids having trouble in school or dropping out.