Tuesday, November 28, 2006

What would Best Buy do?

Three adult teenagers were caught vandalizing a church in Missoula, Montana on November 12.

Have you heard about this?

According to USA Today, they did serious damage – stealing money and electronic equipment, smashing windows and computer monitors and spraying a fire extinguisher in the gym.

Members of the South Hills Evangelical Church responded to the crime by providing “love baskets” to the three teens, now charged with felony burglary.

"We've collected several hundred dollars' worth of gift cards, X-Boxes and controllers, a DVD, a VCR," Reimer said. "All three young men still live with their parents or grandparents, so we hope the message will be clear."
Loud and clear.

Lesson: If these kids had the proper amount of electronic entertainment available at home they never would’ve ransacked our church. Please keep your offspring off the streets and at home in front of the television where they can’t get into trouble.

I understand compassion.

But I don’t think Jesus would’ve shopped at Best Buy to solve this particular problem.

Christ knew better than anyone that when you sit down and talk with people – really spend time connecting – you can make a difference.

And maybe even begin to see a little bit of yourself in them.
The well-intentioned parishioners in Missoula missed a wonderful opportunity to show these obviously troubled young men what Christ was all about – and instead they took the easy way out and went shopping.

What better way to introduce them to the compassion of Christ than by inviting them back to the crime scene to work side by side with church members to clean up the mess? And in the process perhaps get to know them a little better? Maybe show them how the items they stole and damaged brought value to the church and its community?

What lessons will they learn by playing X-Box?
Who donated this stuff? What were they thinking?

And are these people parents themselves? Do they show their own kids the kind of love that only credit cards can buy?
“Hey! I wanna X-Box!”

You just know there’s some other disadvantaged kid out there living in Missoula who’s thinking about all the bad things he can do to earn himself a “love basket.”

And you just know there are tons of other disadvantaged kids out there who would never think of breaking the law who actually deserve an X-Box.
"The judge will give them consequences, but as a congregation we want to reach out and extend love and mercy to them," said Jason Reimer, a pastor at the South Hills Evangelical Church. "A lot of us, whether we're churchgoers or not, have been in their shoes before and have made some bad choices. But God forgives us."

Love and mercy? Forgiveness?

It’s easy to throw those words around but backing it up with genuine time and energy is so much more difficult.
What’s more, these aren’t young teens. According to USA Today, one of the vandals is 18 and the other two are 19 years old.

These guys need free video games?

What they need is mentoring. People who will take the time to help them find jobs so they can learn the value of working hard, earning a wage, and buying their own shit.
Well, that was just one tiny article in USA Today, Heather. Maybe there’s more to this story. And you’re not being particularly Christian yourself, judging these folks from so far away.

Right. So I did a little more investigating and found this story from The Missoulian, a local paper.

Apparently the church is known for its teen outreach efforts, which in the past have included building a local skate park and offering a drug recovery program for adolescents.

But still, there’s this:

“Our biggest concern is the hearts of these guys,” said Pastor Reimer. “That's how we generally feel. We wonder what prompted them to do this in life, and we want to help them get their lives straightened out.”

You wonder? How about if you stop wondering about it and do something, like, I don’t know, actually TALK to them?

And if by helping them get their lives straightened out, you mean helping their brains turn to mush in front of a home entertainment center, mission accomplished.

Well done.
I am listening to: Gromit eat his breakfast
I am reading: Work e-mail
And I am: Disgusted


the dilf said...

I'm sick of this left wing treatment....Let's kick their asses!!!!...Let's look at Singapore, where there is almost NO CRIME....These kids would've been Caned in front of an audience. I tell ya what, If I might get my backside WHIPPED, I just might think twice about vandalism.
This stuff continues to go on in our society because there are NO CONSEQUENCES!!!!!!!!!!!...WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!!