Dear Partners in Mission,
According to one sociologist, there are three kinds of poverty that destroy children:
- Economic poverty
- Educational poverty
- Poverty of values
If a child is poor in any one of these ways, that child can often overcome the deficiency and succeed. But when a child faces more than one of these forms of poverty, the odds are much worse. And sadly, almost all of the children in our various EAPE programs are poor in two of these ways–and a significant proportion of them struggle against all three forms of poverty.
It's tremendously difficult to be economically poor. But when educational poverty gets added, many children are doomed to failure. The public schools in most urban neighborhoods are both overloaded and underfunded. Yet many of our kids suffer not only from the failures of city schools, but from home situations that hinder their education. Living conditions marked by close quarters with little or no privacy, and with television sets constantly blaring, are all too common for these kids. Many of them grow up with few books readily available. Surveys have even shown there is a tendency among some parents in poor neighborhoods to discourage their children's education, knowing that young people who receive a good education are more likely to leave home and may not return.
There's also a significant deficiency of values among some of these kids. Premarital promiscuity is prevalent in their neighborhoods, making unwed pregnancies all too common. Drug use is common, and selling drugs is often seen as a quick way to make a few bucks-and maybe escape poverty altogether. Almost half of the boys in the neighborhoods we serve will commit a felony-and most of those who do will spend time behind bars.
But we believe that with God, we can make a difference. EAPE ministries are challenging the odds for success that these "at risk" youth have to face. Our schools and afterschool programs offer young people educational support, and our many programs that introduce kids to Christ and nurture them in Christian lifestyles are doing much to impart to them good values. I wish I could say we save every child in the neighborhoods where we work. We don't! But with your support, we share God's love with thousands and thousands of kids every year. Let me give you just a few glimpses of what we are seeing:
At Cornerstone Christian Academy, the school we established in a dangerous West Philadelphia neighborhood, there's a young teacher who was once a struggling student at that very school.
There are scores of young adults attending various colleges and universities who were tutored in our afterschool programs.
There's a young legislator in the Haitian Congress who is a product of literacy programs we've been maintaining in Haiti for more than a quarter of a century.
There are dozens of workers now staffing EAPE-related programs they once participated in as children. Consider the many school teachers and social workers hard at work in Camden, New Jersey-folks who participated in EAPE programs as kids, went away to school, and now have returned to their city to serve.
The list goes on and on.
Luke 4:18 tells us Jesus came to bring good news to the poor, and we are trying to do the same. We need your help to keep the work going-so pray and give. You are helping us make a difference for a lot of kids. Faith is the substance of things hoped for–and we are full of hope.
ABOUT TONY + JANUARY 2006