Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pro Deo

The name means "For God."

Pro Deo Youth Center was established about a year ago by Andy and Kylie Ewing in Lee's Summit, MO. Andy is a Lee's Summit police officer and began building relationships with the teens in his community. Those relationships grew and eventually led to inviting kids to the home he shares with his wife.

I had an opportunity to visit their home this evening with a group from my church. We provided a simple meal of sloppy joes and chips and cake for around 30 teens and young adults who came and went throughout the evening. The Ewings open up their home every Tuesday evening to any kids wanting a free meal and a place to hang out with friends. Most of the youth stayed and played cards, video games and ping pong. It was loud and busy and alive. Each time the front door opened and another teen or two or three entered, Kylie greeted them with a smile and a hug, always asking how their week has been or asking about various challenges she knew they had been facing.

I talked to several of the kids there. Most were in school or working. Many had big plans for their lives. Others are struggling. There was one young mama with a 3-month-old baby. Some are homeless. Some don't have supportive families. Some are societies outcasts. Judged for their appearance with piercings and tattoos and black hair and such. Often judged without the benefit of even a conversation. Skateboarders. Hair stylists. But they all gather in this home, that has been opened up to them in the spirit of God's love, and they feel welcome and cared for rather than shunned and judged for the life choices they have made. The Ewings are providing them with a "family." A place to belong, even if only for one night a week.

And isn't that what we all need? To feel loved and a place to belong? Even more so for teenagers and young adults who are living in a time of such chaos and uncertainty, trying to find their place in this world. I'm so thankful there are people in the world like the Ewings who have made the commitment and sacrifice to reach out to kids. They are the kind of heroes we need more of.

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