It’s not every day that a young man earns an Eagle Scout ranking.
And it’s a big deal when he does.
One of the guys who attends the church where I go on Wednesday nights received his Eagle Scout award at a ceremony last Sunday night. They had a big celebration for this guy who’s a high school junior, starting on the football team, and the tiny building was filled to capacity and then some!
This church was specifically planted in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Abilene to be an outreach to a community racked with poverty and all the ways we’ve concocted to survive the pain that living in poverty creates. Serving meals, holding Bible studies, hosting a Celebrate Recovery group and taking van loads of people home after services on Wednesday nights are some of the ways we’re trying to make a difference in people’s lives.
But one person took making a difference in a person’s life seriously.
Several years ago one of my former students started volunteering as a youth minister at this church. He went around the neighborhood finding teenagers, bringing them into a class on Wednesday nights, hanging out with them during the week, getting involved in their lives.
One of those kids ended up without a place to live. With no father in the picture and a mother who was in and out of the legal system and drug rehab, he was camping out on different friends’ couches, sometimes totally on his own.
He was 13.
The youth minister wasn’t out of college himself, but he took that kid home with him.
And at a time when he still needed a dad himself, he became dad.
Father to the fatherless. Just like his Father.
What started out as a few weeks turned into a few months and now, years later, a boy sleeping on couches has become an Eagle Scout. Playing football. Making good grades.
Most importantly, he knows Jesus.
His life won’t be without difficulties, but it will be different. He bears a new name. Because somebody reached down and was willing to get involved in the mess of our lives.