Valerie Williams – Glendale Student Pastor Resident
One of the best parts of summer, for me, now that I am an adult is local schools no longer being in session.
Sounds a little odd, right? How could schools not being in session impact me as an adult with no children…
Simple. Two words: SCHOOL ZONES.
Yeah, school zones! They are the greatest hindrance to my drive into work every morning. I live only 7 miles from my office at the Mesa campus and I hit, at minimum, three school zones on my way to work every day. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the importance of school zones and religiously slow myself down to the snails-pace of 15 miles while driving through to be as safe and courteous a driver as possible but it easily adds 10 minutes to my commute everyday.
So when summer hits, and school zones go away…
HALLELUJAH! Praise Jesus! Kill the fattened calf, we are throwing a party!!!
That’s how excited I get.
Except they don’t entirely go away. Mesa Public Schools provides free breakfasts and lunches to students in the community for a period of time over the summer through a program called Arizona Summer Food Service. What is that you ask? Well it is pretty cool, but I’ll let the website speak for itself:
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Child Nutrition Program established to ensure that low-income children, ages 18 and younger, continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. Free meals, that meet Federal nutrition guidelines, are provided to all children at approved SFSP sites in areas with significant concentrations of low-income children by schools, private non-profits and local or county governments. The SFSP is administered at the State level by the Arizona Department of Education (ADE).
So really cool program, right? Except, the school zones come BACK. Just when I was mid celebration and everything. My lovely, school zone free, summer is now destroyed all because MPS wants to feed a few kids. I want to be angry and throw a little 3-year-old fit about it but then I stop and think…
Jesus tells a story, as he often does, of separating sheep and goats and he says to the sheep that they are to be blessed for they took care of Him when He was down and out, fed Him when He had no food, treated Him, while in this state, with respect and love. The sheep are confused; they don’t remember Jesus ever being in those situations where they were able to reach out to Him. He tells them they did not have to help him directly, by help those around them in need they WERE helping him. Then he turns to the goats and tells them he is disappointed! They did not take care of Him when He was down and out, they did not feed Him when he had no food, and they did not treat Him with respect and love while in that state. Also confused, the goats begin to ask when they had seen Jesus in need like this. He says to them, while you may not have ignored me or treated me badly directly, you did refuse help to those around you even though much help was needed and so, because of this, you did not help me. To the goats he promises equal treatment in the hereafter. (Read Matthew 25:31-36 for Jesus’ version)
So the question I ask myself is… do I want to be a sheep or a goat?
A little inconvenience for me so that children can cross the busy street to make their way to food is a simple and easy sacrifice that, when I really think about, I am willing to make. I can give up part of my school zone free summer, complaint free, so that adorable little girl walking hand in hand with her mom can go get a much needed, much appreciated breakfast.
Maybe you don’t have an issue with school zones, per say– but I know you have a figurative “school zone” that threatens to blind you to the need around you. What is it? Think about it.
How about those of you have yet to take up the mantle we have set before you to participate in the Summer Compassion Project? A sacrifice of time and of money so that over two thousand children can eat, worry-free, for a whole year? What is stopping you? Don’t be a goat when you have such an easy opportunity to be a sheep.
I challenge you, as well as myself, to a couple things:
- It takes only $80 to feed a child for a year through Feed My Starving Children. Get together with your life group, bunco ladies, poker guys, other parents on your kids’ sports teams, whomever and feed a child or two with a monetary donation. Nobody wants to see a child starve (whether they profess faith in Christ or not) and this is an easy way to get involved preventing just that. I’ve already rallied the college kids in our young adult life group to pitch in to support a child! You can too.
- Sign up for a time to serve at our big packing day in July by going to CentralAZ.com/Meals and bring your friends along too. To reiterate what I just said, people don’t want to see children starve, no matter what their background is! Your Mormon neighbor can get behind an event that will feed thousands of kids, so can your atheist cousin, or your Muslim coworker, all of these people can rally behind this endeavor quite easily. (and truly, this event is SO fun– who doesn’t love fun?!)
So I ask again… what is stopping you from being a sheep? Jesus calls us to be more than we are and we can either appreciate the challenge placed before us and answer the call or we can ignore it and be less than we were made to be. So don’t be mad at the school zone; recognize it for the small sacrifice that it is and happily do your part.