By the time they reach middle school, kids are making decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. Usually, a single decision’s effect isn’t immediately life altering. But one poor choice can certainly put a person on a path that limits the kind of opportunities young people should have available to them.
Today, as I drove past a couple of construction sites in our neighborhood, I noticed that the port-a-potties were knocked over. Kids, wandering around, looking for something to do, challenging each other to “do it,” and finally making a decision to damage private property. Afterwards, as they walk away laughing and feeling the camaraderie of being part of a group with a shared secret, they little realize the consequences of their actions. They don’t know that this decision is putting them on a path that can lead to a series of wrong choices and dire consequences.
The book of Proverbs is filled with advice and warnings for youth, in particular young men:
Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evildoers (Prov. 4:14).
Keep straight the path of your feet, and all your ways will be sure (Prov. 4:26).
Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but one who rejects a rebuke goes astray (Prov. 10:17).
As we build a Community Center for our neighborhood kids, they likely don’t know why we are so motivated to expend our financial and human resources on them. They don’t see what we see. We recognize that the path some of them are going down will lead to destruction—not just of private property, but young lives that will not be lived to their full potential. The Community Center is more than just a place for kids to hang out. It is a place equipped to help youth develop emotionally, socially, and physically.
Of course, the Community Center will have all the amenities that excite young people-- climbing wall, big screen television with video games, arcade games, an array of board games, basketball, chess stations, and more. There will also be an area for youth to dialogue with one another and adults trained in youth development, and to receive counsel on filling out college entry forms and job applications.
We don’t just want to prevent kids from destroying private property; we want to enable them to have the best possible choices for their future. We are asking you to help us in this effort. As you decide where to direct your charitable contributions during this holiday season, we ask that you consider young people who need a place where they can be safe, develop healthy relationships, have fun, and receive help in planning for their future.