“We have to be brave ‘cause we’re gonna have to grow up soon.” -James
These words probably resonate with everyone. James is the one who had the courage to let the words come out of his mouth, but I think we’re all kinda saying the same thing. I used to think that there was a magic age where you were just a grown-up and the fear of growing-up went away. I’m beginning to think there is no magic age. Each new season comes with it’s own set of new adventures and new obstacles to overcome.
The neighborhood that UCA exists in makes growing-up more challenging. Our school is located in the 64130 zip code, often called the “Murder Factory of Kansas City.” This zip code covers 8 square miles and houses only 6% of the Kansas City population but 20% of Kansas Citians who are in prison for voluntary manslaughter call this zip code home. Why? The answers to that question seem endless. There is fatherlessness, poverty, systematic oppression, gangs, unaccredited schools, and the list goes on. No wonder kids are afraid of growing up. The future looks bleak. They know more people who have been to prison than who have gone to college. In our community we average 2 murders per week. For some they have to be brave not because of the unknown of where they will go to college or the amount saved up in their retirement fund, instead they wonder if they will even get the chance to grow up at all.
But James has hope. He’s more than willing to try to muster the courage to grow-up. Just the other day when he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, with great conviction he said, “I just want to be a good dad.” James is 5. His dad is in prison.
We feel honored to get to be a part of a school that is helping James and his peers know Jesus and in turn find the courage they need to grow-up. We get goosebumps thinking of the implications of James growing up and being a good dad. Our community needs brave little dudes like James to dream big about being different than the brokenness around them. Pray for James that he would never lose sight of his dream, that his courage would never fail him, and that his hope will always be found in Jesus.