I have been asked before how I went about making my home the kid central home in my neighborhood. It’s a funny question to me because it sounds like I set out banners and balloons to announce a grand opening.
That said, I believe that no matter the financial status of any neighborhood that any of you may live in, there are likely children who need desperately to have a safe haven. I firmly believe that God positioned me right where I am in order to make the comfort of the Gospel available to the 6-10 kids who play in and around my home on most days.
While I can’t give any advice on banners or balloons, I can tell you the qualities that I believe make a home one that draws children in.
- Number one is easy. Be home. If you spend most of your time as at stay at home Mom in the car with your front door locked, the kids will find a different house to go to.
- Cover your home in prayer. I think some of these kids have a keen sense for homes where the walls have witnessed much prayer.
- Talk to the kids. Engage them in conversations about their lives. Be prepared to hear things that break your heart. Validate them.
- If they ask for food or drink, give it to them. My grocery budget is really tight, but I have never had a problem where we went hungry because of the kids’ snacking and joining us for meals. God knows what you are doing. He will provide.
- Decide on a higher level of messiness that you can tolerate. My house must be clean when I wake in the morning and before I go to bed. Between those times, chaos reigns and it’s in various stages of messy.
- Communicate with the kids’ parents. Tell them in front of their children just how great you think their kid is.
As long as Eric and I have lived in neighborhoods with kids in them, we have had the kids in our home. I fix their bikes, their roller skates, and just a few days ago I fixed my very first skateboard. My home is where they go potty, get a drink of water, lounge on the sofa and sit at the table to do some art. When I hear “Miss Amy” from these kids, it sounds much more warm that the formality implies.
I have a good number of friends who have come along side of me and provided food, bikes, and whatever else I may need for some of these kids. If you can’t make your home the haven, see if one of your friends is doing that work. Odds are that the friend will need some aid.
I was very recently given to opportunity to share the weight of my quiet little ministry with the Ladies Bible Class at my church. They are making certain that I have all the snacks I need and when the summer comes, all the meals I may need help with while the kids are out of school.
Ministry is not as complicated as it may seem. It is all about being Jesus. I cannot begin to tell you just how much I get out of the work I do. It is exhausting, heart breaking, and exhilarating all at once. I have seen Jesus, because I have seen His hands at work in my own and the hands of my friends who have pitched in.
I strongly encourage you to look for the quiet, less organized ministries that happen around you. Maybe you need to open your home. Maybe you need to sit down in a restaurant with a homeless guy and converse with him through a meal. Maybe you just need to drop off a bag of apples for the lady whose home is open.
My final advice: I highly recommend you wear an apron if you are going to set yourself up to be the open door in your neighborhood. It is very messy work.