It must have been about three years ago that I said something from the pulpit about the need to tutor a third-grade boy. I had read the statistics: the Commonwealth of Virginia estimates the number of prison cells it will build based on the number of children who are not reading by third grade. It’s one of the reasons my wife got into early childhood literacy: she wanted to keep those kids out of prison!
And so, inspired by her example, I said something about tutoring a third-grade boy, and because I said it publicly, from the pulpit, I had to follow up. So, I got in touch with Raylene Harton in our church who was working with the Micah Project in some of the local elementary schools. I asked her if she could “hook me up,” and she did. Within a few weeks I was enrolled in the “Lunch Buddy” program at Clark Springs Elementary, and it was a few weeks after that that I met Jaylen for the first time.
We got together just about every other week that first year. Last year it seemed a little more sporadic, mostly due to scheduling difficulties, but this year Jaylen and I are working together again, and somehow he has become a fifth-grader (they grow up so fast!).
Jaylen likes football and video games. He seems to like the stories I tell him about my travels. He loves it when I bring him some little memento or token out of the top drawer of my desk.
His reading skills, thankfully, are solid.
I’m telling you all this because today is “Lunch Buddy” day. It’s the first day in this year-long, every-member mission trip to Richmond that I’m scheduled to go to Clark Springs Elementary and see Jaylen. I’m looking forward to it, because it really does seem like a good way to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia, and like so many of those things it works both ways:
Jaylen is probably better for me than I am for Jaylen, and often when I walk back to my car after our session I have that feeling I sometimes talk about: the feeling that “church just happened.”
Maybe today will be one of those days.