Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Love and Service in Tennessee

Mark Potter reported on NBC Nightly News on Wednesday (8/10/05) about a special home in Crossville, Tennessee. Crossville is in a rural county of Tennessee that has seen hundreds of children taken from their homes when their parents were arrested for methamphetamine use or production. You may recall that also on Wednesday, New York Governor George Pataki traveled to Elmira to sign legislation tightening the laws against meth production in our state. Meth production and use in a growing problem in America.

Until recently, in Crossville, Tennessee there was no place other than the county jail to house the children of arrested meth users and producers until foster parents were found. Believing that the county jail was no place for innocent children, the town's people stepped in to remedy the situation. The whole town worked together to raise the necessary funds, buy a house, and refurbish it to be a short term care facility for "meth orphans," as they are called. What is most remarkable is that the House of Hope was entirely funded by private donations. No government or foundation money was used.

Mark Potter reports:

"Each child is given new clothes and a stuffed animal — for many, a first.

"It means the world to them,” says House of Hope volunteer Karen Frantzen. “A lot of times they've never had one thing, ever."

The children are fed and bathed and doctors voluntarily provided medical care.

"We want to provide them with an environment that they can see that they are loved,” says volunteer Dr. Barry Wagner, “and make them feel safe."

The entire community pitches in. Bookshelves in the playroom were built by local Girl Scouts and volunteers from the town theater painted the walls."

What a powerful story about an entire town working together to solve a problem that could easily have been ignored! How many people really want to get involved with children from troubled backgrounds? It would have been so much easier to just look the other way, and let the Cumberland County government and the State of Tennessee deal with it. After all, those "meth orphans" aren't our kids, and besides, if we get involved, our kids may become exposed to those troubled children.

But, instead, Crossville, Tennessee recognized that those kids deserved better than the county jail, and they did something about the problem. It's so easy to adopt an us and them stance toward others. This didn’t happen in Crossville, Tennessee, but it is what appears to be going on in our gospel reading this morning. Jesus encounters a foreign woman with a request, and at first He declines to help her.

Matthew 15:21-28


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