On Wednesday evening, I attended a fantastic community event hosted by the Pella Youth Coalition (PYC). My husband and I are members of the initial team of people who got together this spring with the vision of addressing the trend of substance abuse among the teens in our community. Comprised of concerned parents, law officers, school principals, youth pastors, and non-profit leaders, the PYC is a compassionate group who cares deeply about our community.

 The mission of the PYC prompted my thoughts for our devotional this week. So, whether you live in Pella or not, I trust the truths you read here are things you can apply to your own daily lives and spheres of influence.

 Reach Out to the Community

 Five courageous people gave personal testimonies Wednesday night. One of them was a local mother who had been caught off guard by the drug activity in her neighborhood that eventually affected her son’s life. Her story was read by someone else. Another person, whose story was also read by a person in attendance, is still in jail because of the effect alcohol and drugs had on their life.

 The other three people were at the meeting and stood before everyone to tell their story. I commend them, but what I found so interesting was the fact that all those stories had a common theme of relationship. One of them said, “If I’d just had a relationship with a person I trusted and felt safe with, my life would have gone in a very different direction.” Another met God while in jail. Her sobriety is due to the redemption God worked in her life. She has since found safe relationships.

 We as staff at COC do this for people as part of our daily job. It made me proud to sit in that auditorium and know I worked for an organization who already serves and loves very well. My encouragement to you today is to take those skills of compassion, listening, and providing safe places, and use them to reach out to the youth in your neighborhoods and congregations.

 Our children are suffering a silent crisis. They don’t know how to articulate what it is they need, and they don’t always know where to go to find it. We can help them find what they need by being someone in their life who accepts them, brings out their best, listens, helps them grow in relationship with the Lord, and guides them in making good decisions. This is really what our kids are looking for, and we, as people who are on their side, can give it.

 Spend Time with Your Family

The second concern on my mind today is for our own families. We live in an era of history when many experiments are being performed in an attempt to redefine the foundations of what it means to be a family. I have one simple admonishment to make. Please make the time to sit down to a meal with your entire family as often as you can. The statistic was shared at Wednesday night’s meeting that children who sit down to an evening meal with their family five times per week have better chances at success in emotional stability, sense of identity, and a higher overall ability to function. This kind of investment in our children’s character is worth saying “no” to all the other pressures that compete for our energy and attention.

At the dinner table is where values can be shared. Heritage is passed on. A discussion takes place. Devotions are read. This is one of the best things we can do for our children, which is to promise them a place where they are nourished physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Sunday dinner is still a thing at my house. My husband and I are both blessed with jobs that allow us Sundays free. But even if this isn’t the case in your home, designate a meal time as your stand-in Sunday dinner.

I encourage this because we as parents not only have the privilege of providing our families with nourishment, but also with Sabbath rest. Our homes must also be places where our children are given permission to leave the pressures of excelling and performing. Home should be a place of rest. If your home does not allow for this, please consider making changes so that peace rules. Kids catch on to strife and conflict. It affeccts them for a lifetime.

 Please join me in the call to influence our youth, and therefore the future of our communities, for good.

 Grace and peace,

Michelle De Bruin

COC Spirtiual Services