Another tragedy and why youth need “a safe and friendly place”

I woke this morning to the news. Another mass shooting.

The first thing I did was hug my kids. I decided not to tell them right away what had happened. Our time together in the morning is a time of peacefulness and preparation. Each weekday, we have breakfast together – without the TV or radio – and pack lunches and backpacks. Each day, Amy and I tell our boys we love them as we drop them off for school.

Our youth group meets in a few days. In the meantime, we’ll tell our boys that God loves them, but I’m grateful our boys will hear from our faith community about how God grieves, just like us, when human-caused tragedies occur. Lord, in your mercy…

I’m thinking of all our partner churches today, and the youth they serve. I am thinking especially of one church that asked YMIM for some strategic planning support last week. By a large margin, members of the church advocated that their youth ministry should be a “safe and friendly place for youth.” Over 60 percent of those surveyed prioritized this value.

Frankly, I couldn’t agree more with this congregation. The news was especially hard this weekend before today’s news. In our community, a teenage girl took her life on Friday in the hallways of the school she attended. Our family visited St. Louis over the weekend, where protesters again filled the streets, chanting disappointment with a judicial verdict that was race-related.

I am thankful that our youth group is a “safe and friendly place for youth.” YMIM has a small mailing list, so as I read through the names – possibly including your name – I share a prayer that each congregation may also be this beacon of hope, grace, and faithfulness for young people in our communities. Please let me know if I can help.

– Matt Vaughan, YMIM Director

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