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It is Christmas Eve, 2012, as I write this. I have just returned home from the candle light worship service Trinity UMC holds each year before Christmas. The sanctuary is beautiful and packed with people because it’s a special service in the life of Trinity.
On the way home tonight I drove slowly through the grounds of Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home. It was dark but the houses were decorated with Christmas lights. The lights in the houses were on and vehicles were parked in all the driveways. I drove slowly past one of our nurses who was making rounds on the golf cart. The curtains were open and the lights were on in the living room of one of the boys houses. I could see the boys hanging out around the Christmas tree with the young adults who care for them. I was reminded that 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for 110 years our staff have cared for our children.
During the Christmas Eve service, of course we focused on the birth of Jesus. He began life like all of us – as a baby – without protection or care except for what his young mom and dad were able to arrange. They were not wealthy folk. They managed to find a manger, a temporary place for transient people.
Before he became a man, Jesus was a child. Again, without the protection and care of adults, he was defenseless like any other child. He was blessed to grow up in a family which cared for him.
Jesus’ manhood was informed by his childhood. He didn’t arrive on Earth as a mature adult. He, like all of us, began life as a baby and made it to adulthood because he was cared for and protected.
He lived and died to offer salvation which tends to confuse people. Salvation (similar to salve) is more than what happens after we die. Salvation also saves us from the pain of this present life. In fact, by acting in ways that exhibit agape love, salvation is what the church is called to offer to all.
Salvation includes the gifts of love shared with the child traumatized by brutality. Love is evidenced by the medical and emotional care offered to the child who self mutilates. Salvation is teaching a skill set to a boy so that he can care for himself after he become independent. When adults who love the Lord work together to protect and care for children, they are evidencing that love.
More than 100 years ago, Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home was founded because God called adults to care for the children who could not care for themselves. Today we still care for children and adolescents who cannot care for themselves and whose families have not or cannot care for them either. We pursue our mission with passion to guide children and families home to experience God’s love by following the teachings of Christ.
As you begin this new year, 2013, please plan to pay attention to the activities of Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services. We offer the most intensive levels of residential care in Louisiana for children whose emotional and behavioral needs require extraordinary care. We put family therapists directly in the homes of families experiencing parenting stress over children who have pushed past reasonable boundaries. We work in the families’ homes to keep their children at home and prevent the need for out-of-home care. We provide special education, vocational education and alternative education to children who cannot attend public schools because of their out-of-control behaviors. We offer counseling services in communities across Louisiana to offer support to individuals and families experiencing stress or brokenness.
Join with us as we provide care and protection for children who cannot care for themselves! Pray for our children and their families.
Let me offer this: if you wish to learn more about the work you support, please invite me to speak with your Sunday School class. I love visiting Sunday School classes and talking about all that our 460 staff in Louisiana are doing to care for children and families. Contact me at rick.wheat@LMCH.org or call me at (318) 255-5020. I would love to visit your class!
Rick Wheat, President and Chief Executive Officer
Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services