Wednesday, March 14, 2012

No room in the Inn

"and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." - Luke 2:7

Three months ago, in early December, I met a boy named CJ. He showed up for Christmas choir rehearsal dressed completely in black and wearing makeup.  He stood out like a sore thumb, but I welcomed him.  After choir rehearsal, I found out that he had recently come to Elko through the foster care system. His parents had been abusive, and he was five weeks away from turning 18. Once he turned 18, he would age out of the foster care system and then he would have no place to live.  Taking a giant leap of faith, not knowing anything at all about this kid except that he had showed up for choir looking like Marilyn Manson, I told him that if he needed a place to live he could come stay with me and my family.  At that point in time, my husband and I were both working, and things were looking up for our financial future.

I didn't hear much more from CJ over the next five weeks. We took him out to lunch once and bought him a coat - he didn't have one - and I made it a point to greet him whenever I saw him at Mass.  He came to a couple of more choir rehearsals and then for three weeks I didn't see him at all.  I didn't know what had happened to him.  My life went on. My husband and his job parted ways just days after having made that offer to CJ. Three months later, he's still out of work.  Five weeks later, I made a decision to quit my job and find another.  Three days before my last day of work, with no new job in sight, CJ showed up at our door.  He needed a place to live right away.

I had no idea how we were going to afford to take care of this child, our finances were in terrible shape by this point and the future was not looking up.  However, I decided that I would not turn my "Yes" to God into a "Sorry, I made a mistake".  We jumped through the state-required hoops and took him in just three days later, on January 13th - a month to the day after my birthday and exactly a week before his. 

I was not surprised to discover that CJ had a host of problems. Abused children always do. He had failed every class from his previous semester in high school and had only 6 credits on his transcript despite being labeled a Senior.  He has issues with same-sex attraction, and he was involved in the occult. The only shirt he owns that has any color to it is red and black, otherwise his entire wardrobe is black everything. Yet underneath the makeup and the clothes is a child whose heart is hungry for love, and quick to give it to anyone who is willing to give him a half of a chance. 

He has opened my eyes to the plight of teens in my community who, like him, are transitioning out of the foster care system or who are teen mothers who need a place to go.  He has made me aware of the fact that, for these kids, there is no room at the inn.  There is no place here in Elko, Nevada where these kids can find safe shelter.  Their only choices are the streets or the gangs.  That's not much of a choice.

I am not the best qualified person to be helping homeless kids.  I don't have a degree in social work, or in psychology. I don't have a bachelor's in education. I struggle to manage my own finances.  However, I have heard a saying that I really do believe is true.  God doesn't call the qualified - He qualifies the called.  My "yes" to CJ has led me to realize that I have a calling here in Elko, a calling to help the homeless kids in this area.  I'm not qualified to do it, but it doesn't seem like anyone else is willing to do it and so I am going to do it. I don't know how I will finance it, or what will come of this, but when Jesus calls me before Him to ask for an accounting of my life, I do not want it to be said that when He came to me for help, I told Him there was no room in the Inn.

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