a different world

Letha and I made a short trip to a major retailer box store (to remain nameless but Sam Walton’s kids are still making lots of money) late last night. The store is in a questionable part of town, not too far from where we live. Our neighborhood is relatively mono-cultural. Not true in this store. There was a large majority of the people in the store who were a different culture than we are. I am not saying that this is a bad thing – this is just for purposes of making an observation.

A couple of things that struck me about these families was their apparent poverty and the fact that the store was full of kids and it was very late, especially for the night before the first day of the school year. Shopping carts we full of school supplies, kids were picking out notebooks and clothes and there were lots of glue and boxes of tissues as required by the classroom supplies lists. It was kind of crazy.

I couldn’t help but think that these kids should already be bathed and snug in bed. Instead, they were bouncing around the store, dealing with the crowd in this madhouse. They were buying sodas to drink now and sugary cereal to eat for breakfast. Kind of messed with my mind. Are these parents leading their kids into continued poverty? Will the kids grow up to understand that there is a better way to do life? Please don’t get me wrong. I am NOT saying that these people are the reason that they are poor. I am saying, if these parents don’t know any better than to treat their kids this way, I am skeptical of their judgment in other areas.

My heart went out to these families. I found myself wanting to pay for some of their stuff. I didn’t or couldn’t do that. I thought how much we need to reach out to these people, I talked to Letha about how we need to minister to more cultures through our church.

We just paid for our stuff and drove home, back to our neighborhood.

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One response to “a different world

  • Lisa L.

    ah yes, a late, sunday night trip to Walmart the night before school starts. I can totally relate and have been there quite a few times myself. I chuckled as my mind went to the many times I have experienced this. I have found myself wondering many of the same things you did and often times I actually run into some of my students and actually tell them and their parents “shouldnt you be in bed already!!?”The more years I work in education with students from low income homes, the more I understand where they are coming from and what kinds of things I can do as an educator to support them. I could go on about what the research says about families who live in poverty and how the majority often “live in the moment” and therefore do many things “last minute”, however I will focus on what I see as a few of the key factors that make a huge difference. One is the importance of meeting them where they are at without judgement and another is building strong relationships. Actually, I’m sure you would agree that this is not just true of people who live in poverty, but really I think of all people no matter what our race or socio-economic status. We all want to be understood rather than judged.Sometimes there are additional barriers one must surpass in order to meet them where they are at and/or to build a strong relationship (i.e. non-english speaker, lack of available time to meet, etc) however, once you overcome the barriers and the trust and mutual respect is there you can do amazing things together. This is something educators are constantly striving for. Student success doesnt happen until the relationship between home and school is strong. I of course speak from the perspective of an educator, but I think pastors and church leaders could relate since this is much of what being a Christian is all about.

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