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Subomi @subomiplumptre
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COMMUNITY CHURCH | When @Chude began advocating for safe spaces for those dealing with depression, I could relate. I was reminded of neighbourhood community centres in the US. #Church #Thread
In some US cities where kids are at risk of suicide or gang initiation, the community leaders realised something. Many children do not turn to gangs or suicide because of adversity.
Rather, some do so because they feel alone. Others, because they have no options and the flicker of hope has finally gone out.
The leaders realised that community centres could serve as an "escape" or a "break". The opportunity to play basketball for 2 hours after school, provided a way for some kids to gather emotional strength before returning to dysfunctional homes.
Having a counsellor to speak to provided temporary affirmation and in some cases, permanent intervention. Mixing with kids from other backgrounds opened up a new world of possibilities and caused some kids to remain in school.
In #Nigeria, church has traditionally played a small part in providing an escape route for troubled teens. Many learned to play musical instruments in church or joined the choir to spend time away from home.
When I was a child, there was a family of poor kids in the neighbourhood that was always at our home or in church. With the benefit of maturity, I now understand why.
Last year, I went on an inspection of Ashoka Changemakers projects with a group and met a girl programmer. We visited her tiny apartment in the heart of Isale Eko, which housed her siblings, parents and grandmother.
We wondered how such brilliance could emerge from such difficult circumstances. Her mother said something during the visit that provided a clue. She said her daughter was always in church and loved her choir mates.
I have considered so many churches with car park space and functional auditoriums that are only used for 2 days a week. I wonder what it would mean for a generation of kids if only those churches would draw basketball lines on the car park.
I wonder what joy would be injected into the community, if kids could stop by for afterschool classes and lunch. Imagine what a library could do to shape young minds.
Some churches already do some of this but call it Summer Camp. Why not do it all year round? Surely they have the space for it and willing volunteers. If each church member volunteered for at least one day a year, we'd have big brothers and sisters to mentor the kids.
Would a company be willing to donate lunch? Maybe. Would a diesel supplier be willing to donate some to keep these "community centres" running every day? Maybe. The chance that the executives who can make the donations happen are congregants is high.
I pray pastors begin to see church as more than just a spiritual centre. It can become the tool through which God can reach a hurting generation right in their backyard. A new generation of pastors is coming. I hope they do things differently.
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