Pastor Johnson pulled up a chair and sat down next to Stanley, “Here’s what we want to do. Dr. Bloomfield from the mission and I have been talking and praying about a way to reach out to the poor families living out on Highway 109 in those seedy motels for some time. We are also aware the area has a really high crime rate with drugs, alcohol and Lord knows what else going on over there. Yet in the midst of all of that struggling families are trying to scratch out an existence and raise their children properly. You kids have some of those children attending your school.”
Glances were exchanged between Sue, Jon and Andrea. They then looked back at Pastor Johnson who had paused for that fact to sink in.
He continued, “Dr. Bloomfield and I want to begin a visitation program to begin to get to know the families over there and try to begin to see how and where we can best serve them and reach out to them with physical assistance and with the gospel.”
“I would like to see kids like you get involved with that to reach out especially to the children. We want to begin some sort of program for them at the church in conjunction with programs for the parents at the mission.”
“We want to try to involve some local doctors and dentists to provide some free care for those that have more severe needs and no means of getting the help that they need.”
“We want to provide help with food and clothing. The parents need to have the energy to work to support their families. They need clothing that will allow them to work with dignity.”
“We also want to make sure that the needs of the children are met and to try to integrate them into the life of the community with hot meals, clothing, assistance with their school work and children like you to be their friends.” With that Pastor Johnson stood up and began to pace in the little kitchen speaking in a highly animated fashion with an oatmeal raisin cookie still in his hand.
The room was silent. Sue knew that her father spoke like this when he really believed deeply in something. He was like this on Sunday mornings in the pulpit of their little church. She and the others knew to sit and hear him through.
He continued, “We want to try to break the endless cycle of hopelessness brought on by the drugs, alcohol and crime. We want to offer them the hand of our friendship and the gospel of our saviour to lift them out of the pit of despair. All of that begins by going over there and knocking on some doors.”
Stanley laid his head down on the table, coughed and cleared his throat, “Mom? If Dad’s gonna talk for a long time, I’m gonna need another cookie.”
Pastor Johnson turned around and looked at everyone in the kitchen, realized what he had been doing and sat down again and took a large bite out of his cookie and a deep drink of his milk. Broad smiles and happy laughter then filled the Johnson family kitchen. Pastor Johnson, smiling at himself, spoke again, “So, I guess you can tell how excited I am about this idea and how much I think that it could help the families on 109. Are you kids interested in helping out?”
The children all said “Yes” together and began asking how they could help. Pastor Johnson told them that the details had not all been worked out yet, but that they would within the next week or two. “I’m glad that I can count on all of you for some help. I will let you know as soon as we have something definite. I have some reading to do before dinner; I will be in my study dear.”
Jon and Andrea both realized then that they needed to get to their own homes and the Johnson family began to prepare for dinner.