What If The Church Stepped Up?

With the recent Supreme Court decision and possible ramifications of it, my post is not about the decision itself or debating it. My post is about things the church could have been doing all along that will be sorely needed now. When I say church, I mean it in the overall nationwide sense not regarding any specific individual church. I also mean the members of the church as in Christians.

I have worked in Title I schools for thirteen years. Though my work is specifically with refugees/immigrants, my work has made me very aware of the plight of those living in low income neighborhoods. I have often wondered why Pro Life has not included adding being the hands of Jesus for people struggling in life.

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Foster care is a huge problem. There are far too many children living in foster care. I will never forget a little boy in Kindergarten Jump Start, which is one week for the little ones to experience school before all the kids start. The first morning he told me he was nervous. As I listened, he told me he does not live with his mom or dad. His expressions and body language showed me he felt shame. What could happen if more Christians stepped up as foster parents?

A huge need for single moms and moms with partners in low income areas is childcare for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. What could happen if churches put more emphasis on something like supporting both financially and with staff free childcare centers in low income areas?

Adoption is perhaps going to be needed now more than ever. What could happen if more Christians stepped up to adopt babies who for whatever reason the birth mother cannot or in some cases it would be harmful for her to keep the baby? The video I am sharing is a powerful message about what can happen when a loving family adopts a baby.

These are just a few thoughts/questions that come to mind as I think about not only what could happen if the church steps up in such ways, but also what could have happened all along. If the church had been doing such things all along, how many of the 65 million babies aborted over the past 70 years could have been born?

Thank you for reading. God Bless,

A Conversation in the Park

We are having a stretch of really nice days in my State. Yesterday was a perfect day for me. It was 72f/22c, sunshine, and no wind. The no wind is rare in Nebraska. The tree pollen was low and is almost over. So what is a young man like me to do on such a day?

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No, I did not go to the coffee shop. I took the book I am currently reading and went to the park. It was a perfect day to sit in the sun and read for a few hours. I even had a brief divine appointment with a four year old girl. She was eating ice cream with her mother.

As I walked by, I greeted them in Spanish. I introduced myself and let the mom know I am a teacher. We spoke briefly in Spanish. Then I asked the little girl if her ice cream was yummy. I asked her what her name is. After she told me her name, I shared a few simple truths that I hope stay with her.

I said, “por favor, siempre recuerdas eres preciosa a Jesus Cristo.” Please always remember you are precious to Jesus Christ.

Then I told her, “siempre Jesus Cristo es contigo.” Jesus is always with you and “Jesus Cristo te ama.” Jesus Christ loves you.

Before I walked away, I told the mom and the little girl, “Dios te bendiga” God Bless You. As I was walking away, the little girl said to me, “Dios te bendiga.”

Then I sat down at a picnic table in the sun and read from the book. It looks like this stretch of nice days will continue for the next ten days, so I hope to return to the park to read some more.

Gracias por leyendo. Thank you for reading. Dios te Bendiga. God Bless You.

School Safety- What Does Jesus Think of Us?

Each morning the past eight years it has been a blessing for me to interact with children at the school where I teach. I have so many fond memories of conversations with the children. It was always a joy to walk through the library and hear a chorus of-Hi Mr. Matt.

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There have been children who Jesus blessed me to help in a deeper way like the little girl this year who had anxiety, the little boy from Afghanistan, the children of the moms I teach and more. During a fire drill a few months ago, two of the little girls in the ELL Level 1 class walked down the stairs and out the door holding my hands.

It is way past time to take school safety seriously, stop playing politics on both sides, and take action. It is more than gun control. There are other issues such as the prevalence of violent video games that end up being training videos for those who would seek to do the evil of a school shooting.

What I know for certain is that children are precious to Jesus and the church needs to become a loud voice about making sure children are safe in school. The only thing children should wonder about is their homework, what lunch will be served in the cafeteria, learning, recess and just being a child.

We do not need to discuss what Jesus thinks about children being safe because he already stated that in Matthew 18:

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.”

The question we need to be asking ourselves is what Jesus thinks about his church when it comes to being a voice regarding school safety.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Little Girl Had Anxiety- She Will Be Okay

I shared back in February about a little girl at school who had anxiety in- A Little Girl Had Anxiety. She had anxiety because she was a beginning English learner and school felt daunting to her. She is only in 2nd Grade. After speaking with her in Spanish, she began to visit me in my classroom, which was next to hers, each morning. I shared about that in-Being A Safe Place-My Special Visitor Each Day.

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She made a lot of progress to the point that when I would ask her-“Sientes Nerviosa?”, do you feel nervous, she would say no. She has made little friends in class and has been doing well in school. But yesterday when I told her it was my last day at school, she did not take it well at first. I reminded her that she has friends in school now and is doing well. As she hugged me, I told her she will be okay and that Jesus is always with her.

I went into her classroom to give the children cookies, When I went in, she hugged me and cried. I held her for a few minutes while she cried, and reminded her again that Jesus is always with her. After I left, her teacher helped the students in her class to make cards for me. The little girl, Maria, made this one for me.

As I left the school, I saw her having fun playing with the other children during recess. She will be okay. I am glad I could be a small part of helping her adjust to being in a new school in a new country in a new language.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Who Wants Cookies?

My morning class is next to an ELL Level 1 class-English Language Learners. The children are beginning English learners. I know their teacher well and she is my fellow Christian as well as teacher. If she is not there and a sub is late, I wait in the classroom while the children eat breakfast until the sub arrives.

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I also know each of the children. They often come into my classroom to say hi or for a hug. I joke with them in the hallway just to see them smile.

Each morning I go into their classroom after my class finishes and bring with me a package of chocolate chip cookies. First I ask their teacher, “Ms. Wilcox do you have good students today?” She answers yes. Then I ask her, :Can they have a cookie?” She always says yes.

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Then they line up and have to practice saying in English, with me, “May I have a cookie please?” The package of cookies is not expensive and it is a little thing for me, but it is a big thing for the children. I must admit it is a highlight of my morning to see them smile and to joke with them a little.

What the children don’t know is that I pray for them. Children are a blessing but they also need blessings from adults. They need to be and feel safe and valued. If I can help in small ways, I am glad to do so. Jesus loves them and so do I.

By the way ,in case you are wondering, I give them chocolate chip cookies. Ones I buy not bake myself after all safety is important. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

In The Eyes of A Child

Next Monday I have a meeting for my annual appraisal for my role of teaching the moms in my morning class. But I had two last week that were a blessing. They came from the 2nd grade daughter of one of my students. She is biased of course and sees things though the lens of loving her mom. She gave me notes two different days.

The first one said.

The second one said.

Her logic is that because I help her mom, I am a good teacher.

It makes me think about the faith of a child. in Luke 18:

 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

The message of the gospel is simple. Jesus died for our sins, so we can be forgiven and we receive that forgiveness by trusting/believing in Jesus. The message requires us to receive Jesus in faith, faith like a child. That is why 1 Corinthians 1:18 says:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Whatever the official appraisal says, I already have the one that counts to me, the one from the heart of a little girl who loves her mom.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- Coloring Easter Eggs

Last Thursday the moms in my class enjoyed an activity with the children in the ELL Level 1 class. First they had a scavenger hunt they did together. Then it was time to color some Easter Eggs.

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I joined them for the coloring Easter Eggs part. First to take pictures and then I sat down with them and colored an Easter Egg. The children were very creative in how they colored their eggs as were the moms in my class. Stickers were added, various colors were on each egg, and the paper they worked on somehow was clean except a few spots of color here and there.

As for me, we let’s just say my egg was perhaps the least creative. I used wax to make a smile face which didn’t look so great. It may surprise you to know that the paper under the spot where I was working somehow ended up being the messiest. There were big splotches or coloring all over.

It might just so happen that when I lowered the egg with the little wire thing, my egg rolled off and plopped into the water. In my defense, I think such wire contraptions are designed for little fingers to use not for the fingers of a guy who played American football in his youth and often taped fingers together to take care of injured fingers.

The children did not notice my little work area being the messiest. The moms might have commented on it. But fun was had by all.

Children are precious to Jesus. They bring joy and laughter into life. But they are also vulnerable and need to be protected. They also need a blessing in the morning. It is my privilege to speak with them as they go to their classroom and wish them a good day in school.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

The Origin of Mr. Matt

First I need to say that Mr. Matt is a title reserved for the children at my school or for teens from other countries I mentor. 🙂

I had a group of teens from Vietnam that I mentored from 2008 to 2015. In their culture, they are taught to show respect to the teacher by saying teacher. One day they asked me what they should call me and I told them they could call me teacher or Mr. Matt. After that every Saturday and Sunday afternoon when we met, I heard Mr. Matt several times.

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Fast forward to interacting with children at the school where I teach in the mornings I introduce myself to the children as Mr. Matt because I know my last name would be difficult for them to pronounce especially for children in ELL, English Language Learners, Level 1. When children at school see me, they greet me with Hi, Mr. Matt. It gets my attention every time and I say a quick greeting to them.

One other aspect of the children calling me Mr. Matt is that it helps them to feel they can connect with me.

Have you ever noticed how it feels to say Jesus? The name Jesus makes God someone we feel we can connect with. Saying the name Jesus feels more personal that saying God at least for me it is. The name Jesus gives us access to God the Father.

This morning when I go to church, I will greet Jesus. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.