We at the PEACE Program love kids, especially the kids we see every day. You could ask any one of our volunteers if this is true, and the answer would be an immediate and fervent, YES! We don’t just say we love them either, we show it.
One of my favorite memories from the PEACE Program is a day when Andrew came to help out after having surgery on his knee. He was still walking on crutches, but he figured himself mobile enough to help kids with homework. He had just sat down and begun helping one kid when another ran up, stole his crutches, and started running down the hallway. Andrew leaped out of his chair and hopped around on one foot, calling to come back while also trying to get the attention of another worker. After Andrew got the crutches back, he wasn’t angry or upset, he just laughed and finished helping the first kid with their homework. Why? He loves kids.
On another occasion, we were all playing in the grassy plot behind our building. The object of the game was to run from one end of the plot to the brick wall on the other side without being tagged. Unfortunately, it had rained the day before and the ground was still a bit slick. Amy A. had done her best to avoid all the little hands trying to tag her, but when she neared the wall and tried to slow down, she slid on the wet grass, hitting the brick wall knee first. Though somewhat injured, she stood up, laughed, and did her best to make sure everyone was still having fun. Why? She loves children.
These aren’t the only stories of mishaps at PEACE. One time, we went outside and Larissa’s car had been left unlocked. Inside her car was a young boy sitting at the driver’s wheel. She didn’t explode or get mad, she just calmly and sweetly asked the boy to get out, and he did. Why? She loves kids.
More than once, the kids have hit, kicked, or insulted our volunteers. If our kids are ever crazy or unruly, we make it a point not to respond in anger or spite, but with love.
Why do we love kids even through physical pain, property defamation, or emotional distress? We love because we were loved first. John 3:16 says, “For God so LOVED the world . . .” Jesus never once turned His back on the people He came to save, even when they spat on Him, hit Him, and kicked Him. You see, Jesus loves, even after all the times we have defamed him, cursed him, or disobeyed him. Jesus gave himself on a cross to a world that does not always give love back because He is love. This is why the crazy days make us laugh at PEACE, because we know what it is like to be loved even when we mess up, and we want every kid who walks into our building to know that love too.