Sunday, May 3, 2009

Christian service and nursing homes

One of the more popular acts of Christian service among groups which include children is to go to the local nursing home and visit, plant flowers, adopt a grandparent, sing songs, etc.  It is a wonderful way to teach children about service while providing a service in the same community that the child is from.

In some ways, this is far superior to participating in foreign missions.  Foreign missions are important, but with local service, the child can learn about needs in his or her community and will hopefully provide service throughout his or her life, instead of "writing a check and letting someone else take care of it."

Unfortunately, we have seen this attitude far too often in our local churches.  Many go wild over foreign missions, but when local children need help, shelter, or a place to have a school, the responses range from, "children are noisy" to "children are destructive" to (my personal favorite), "the children from the [insert foreign mission here] are so lovely and nice, we give them money and then they go home."  Geesh.  In my mind, this all sounds like the following statement.  I'd love to help do God's work here on Earth, but those darn kids get on my last nerve!  I like them better starving in a foreign land.

So, with all this in mind, DS11's gifted class heads off to the nursing home.  He comes back with incredible tales of the gentleman that he and a buddy made friends with.  Apparently, this man is a major character.  My child learned loads about "gambling effectively."  Who wants to gamble and not be effective!  This dude told my kid that the best game in the world is blackjack, with poker right behind.  He even gave them a lesson :-)  

He has never worked in his life, but gambles to make money.  He doesn't pay taxes, but drives a Thunderbird--and as long as you've got a Thunderbird, what else do you need?  He has been married 3 times (technically, because if you don't say 'I Do' and substitute something else or keep your voice low, you're not really married and you won't have to pay for a divorce later).  One of his wives shot him (I wonder why).

Anyway, this has prompted conversations about being kind to people even if they are a little odd or different in their beliefs.   We've explained why we don't want DS11 to live like that (we don't want you to get shot, divorced, or go to jail for tax evasion) and he seems to understand it.  But, he will probably always be pretty darn good at blackjack.

Okay, I will admit that this particular act of service didn't go quite as I had imagined.  But, I am glad that at least the kids are intrigued enough by some of the interesting tales that they have heard that they want to go back and visit more often.  Some of them have already gone back to plant rosebushes outside the sunroom for everyone to enjoy.

In a world where everything is money oriented, talk is cheap and the laughs hubby and I had after the boys went to bed are priceless!

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