We are all sinners, and we have been wounded in some way or another.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”
– Luke 4: 18-19
For those who know me well enough, they would know that I am currently working in a Catholic Charity, a non-profit organisation which works with boys-at-risk in a residential setting. The youth come from varied backgrounds – some presenting with the aftermath of trauma, others on Child Protection Order, some having had minor brushes with the law, and mostly those who come in on compassionate grounds – who do not have relatives or parents to give them full developmental care. For example, in an Art Therapy session, one of the boys sculpted a sculpture of a headless pregnant woman because he had never seen his mother’s face before.
While these youth may appear as tough and gruff, they come from a place of woundedness or neglect, and very often are seeking some form of intimacy, love, and validation. They also present with bamboozled-ly stunning sports, culinary, music, and art portfolios. Some even present unsurpassable talent such as juggling, singing, and impeccable comedic timing.
However, the youth are crying out for help. They are also looking for good mentors, educators, and sojourners who would journey with them and who would believe in them. They also need prayer warriors who would stand in the gap and intercede for them. They need someone whom they can count on in their lives.
A client was baptised an Anglican, but turned to the underground gods favoured by his gang. This was in part due to how he felt that his parents did not love him, and so sought solace in the dizzying world of vice. He felt welcomed and accepted in what the youth term as their “shirt” (gang). He was a minor leader of the pack, and felt useful.
Another child who came in, was baptised a Catholic, but his father was violent and abusive to his wife and his children. Having faced such trauma, he had a wounded perspective of the Catholic faith, and an even more distorted perspective of who God the Father is.
Yet another child had both parents who had been incarcerated. He had spent his childhood moving from one foster home to another foster home, before finally settling in this current organisation.
For another youth, when a social worker did a house visit, she found that he was not getting the proper nutrition he needed, and was only eating instant noodles every day.
These are the everyday scenarios which I encounter in my place of work. For these youth, whose default mode is fight and flight, it is tough to even talk about the concept of love. There is good reason that they are barely motivated to do well in school, for at their tender age, they have greater concerns to worry about.
The LORD GOD, with His impeccable sense of humour has placed me here for a time and season, because He has a plan for me. I don’t know what that plan is, but as 1 Peter 4: 8 says, “Let your love for one another be intense, because love [charity] covers a multitude of sins.” My brothers and sisters, every prayer counts. Please join me in praying for these whom are God’s beloved.
by Brian Bartholomew Tan