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Ed Gossien's picture

Clackamas Town Center, Sandy Hook, and you.....

I've been away from my blog for a while now. I just finished fifteen weeks of physical therapy after rotator cuff surgery. It proved difficult to type much with the use of only one arm. I learned a lot of lessons in the past fifteen weeks. I'll share some of them soon. But like many of us, I can't get past the senseless shootings in the news recently. But what do they have to do with children's ministry? I'm glad you asked.
I live in Salem, Oregon, and shop at the Clackamas Town Center, in Portland. I really like

a small family owned jewelry store there. (They are very helpful to "deer in the headlights" husbands as they shop for their wives.) This year I saved up to buy Kim a bracelet for Christmas. After narrowing the decision down to two bracelets, I needed a brain break. I found a table in the food court to ponder my decision.
The cold metal chair, and not-quite-big-enough table were just a few feet from where the infamous shooter ruthlessly killed, wounded, and frightened innocent people just a week or so earlier. My friends in the jewelry store told their personal stories, where they were, what they did. I think it helps people to tell the story over and over.
Being there was kind of creepy. I tried to figure out what would motivate someone to be so cruel and heartless, when they knew they would lose their life anyway. My guess is that they wanted to make a statement before they died. They wanted to be famous. Nothing else makes sense. The question is, does it work?
What is the name of the Clackamas Town Center shooter? I haven't used his name, because I've already forgotten. You probably have too. What is the name of the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School? Do you see? They aren't famous, only the crime is.
The Deceiver, the Devil himself and his army, whispers in the ears of vulnerable people. "You are right! Everyone is against you. You are a "Somebody", and nobody gives you the time of day. You need to get their attention. The more brutal your crime, the more famous you will be. Go for it. Don't delay. I approve!" He lies. Satan even lies to his friends, and laughs as they senselessly end their lives and the lives of others.
So, what does this have to do with children's ministry? Here are my conclusions.
1. One never knows the time that remains. The children at Sandy Hook Elementary should have lived long full lives, but they won't. Every day is the right day to share the Gospel with children and teens.

2. Our investment in the lives of young people might turn someone from listening to lies told by the Enemy of our Souls. As we share the wonder of the Gospel, and kids believe, we shrink the pool of young people willing to entertain such evil thoughts.

3. Every child is significant. Working with young people gives us an opportunity to celebrate their unique significance, and help them to see the significance of others. This understanding makes every life precious.

4. Every day is not equal. In general, worldviews are shaped when we are young. We all know that. But for the local children's ministry workers, a day before the tragedy at Sandy Hook was worth so much more than one after.
Here are some questions I never want to answer.
"Why didn't I share the gospel with them before it was too late?"
"Why did I think it was OK to wait until later?"
Or even worse...
"Why didn't I reach out with Christ's love to that shooter when he was in my Sunday School class? I wonder if reaching that young boy would have prevented the latest tragedy?"
I'm not sure we can ever make sense of all this. Lets remember to pray for the families of the victims of these crimes. The news cycle continues, pushing their stories further and further from our minds, but the pain of loss lingers for a lifetime.

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