Don’t waste your clout: a high school QB and a gal with Microcephaly

Sometimes athletes, particularly in high school can really be jerks. And sometimes, being a jerk is what they do on a nice day. Yet every so often, one hears (now you can hear-if you hadn’t seen this) of a story where the athletes aren’t the bullies; they are the defenders of the bullied. The story can be found here, and you’ll want to read this one. I know I always say things like that, but this one is a heart warmer. It really is.

A mentally handicapped (microcephaly) gal named Chy was getting made fun of, for guess what, being mentally handicapped. Cue blood boiling…..So her mother resorts to faculty, principal, militia? Nope. She goes to the quarterback of the football team.

Now that Carson Jones agreed to do something about it, he would probably just bully the bullies? Right? Not this Mormon.

He started asking her to eat at the cool kids’ lunch table with him and his teammates. “I just thought that if they saw her with us every day, maybe they’d start treating her better,” Carson says. “Telling on kids would’ve just caused more problems.”

It got better. Starting running back Tucker Workman made sure somebody was walking between classes with Chy. In classes, cornerback Colton Moore made sure she sat in the row right behind the team.

Just step back a second. In some schools, it’s the football players doing the bullying. At Queen Creek, they’re stopping it. And not with fists — with straight-up love for a kid most teenage football players wouldn’t even notice, much less hang out with. 

1.) Don’t waste your clout

This Carson Jones fellow had been given clout. A QB has clout. He has influence. Instead of using that influence to advance his own agenda, Jones used his clout to see that this young gal was enfolded into the “cool” group. There she could find refuge from the bullying, acceptance, and love. Popularity, clout, influence, in and of itself, is not bad. You can use your clout for good. You can use your clout to advance Jesus’ Kingdom purposes. I think more important than this kid being a QB was this kid simply offering himself in relationship to someone who needed it. When people are in need of relationships, and you choose to offer yourself to those oppressed and hurting, that’s all the clout you need.

2.) Fighting with love 

If I were the mom, who knows what I would have done? I can’t imagine someone mistreating my child and not ordering the high school equivalent of a “hit,” something like an atomic wedgie, toilet swirly, paintball raid. But this kind of sentiment is only partly correct. We should be outraged and angered at the evils perpetuated through words. And we should fight back. But the question is how? The Taliban blow themselves and others up, but I heard one missionary describe our redemptive activity in the world as “suicide bombers of love.” We fight back with love. We don’t fight fire with fire, but with water.

Not a sappy sort of love which simply laments or votes against injustice, but one which actively moves into the world of the oppressed. Something costly. Bringing those oppressed folks into a new relationship. Our relationships. There is always a cost when it comes to bringing someone into our relationships. Relational dynamics change, and that’s a cost. The cost of taking on the smell (smelly kids/adults tend to have fewer friends), the risk of loss of reputation (will we be as liked when associated with ___?), time, money, convenience etc…

3.) The cost is still worth it. 

But what about next year, when Carson probably will be on his Mormon mission and all of Chy’s boys will have graduated? Not to worry. Carson has a little brother on the team, Curtis, who’s in Chy’s class. “Mom,” he announced at the dinner table the other night, “I got this.”

Just because something is costly, doesn’t mean that it’s not worth the cost. Jesus instructs us to count the cost (Luke 14:28), but what we get is a joyful treasure (Matthew 13:44). The younger brother saw the cost, but deemed taking care of this gal very much worth the cost. Many times the cost of sacrificial love scares us away from, well, love. But consider the fact that the cost may be worth it. Whether it be as simple as sticking up for the unlovely, or as sublime as adoption, we can’t forget that the blessings of following Jesus do not only start in the life to come (Mark 10:30).

Valentines Nursing Home Trip

I never was a fan of Valentines Day primarily because I rarely had a “valentine” to spend it with. In the chance I was “dating” it never seemed to coincide with the Hallmark Holiday. Now after having a “valentine” who doesn’t like Valentines Day, my sentiment hasn’t changed. I’m still not a fan.

One person at the nursing home yesterday felt the same way and refused a flower and card and from one of our youth. Fortunately she was an anomaly. Redeemer’s youth spent some time at the nursing home, seizing an opportunity and excuse to take the focus off youth dating and on to loving others.

Here are some thoughts:

1.) You don’t have to like it to do it every so often, but don’t forget Jesus likes it when you do

Visiting nursing homes is not my favorite thing to do. It doesn’t crack my top 10 ministry favorites. I’ll be up front about that. Nevertheless, I’m convinced it is one place Jesus would have stopped by had he come 2000 years later. He spent time with the poor, lame, sick, smelly, outcast, lonely. So if we follow Jesus, following in His footsteps is probably a good place to start. Regardless if that’s our preference. Going several times a year is really not all that hard to do.

2.) Have a mercy target

If you don’t aim for something specific, you’ll surely miss. For instance, “I want to minister to the community,” is a popular sentiment. It really is. Visiting nursing homes takes a lot of guess work out of what to do or where to go. You just show up and you’re more often than not a celebrity. If you choose a different route to display mercy, make sure you choose something specific and go for it. More often than not, we can say, “I want to show mercy, just not that way.” That is fine provided you choose A way. Most of the time, for me, the emphasis is more on “not that way” than on actually showing mercy. Mercy then remains a sentiment we soon drop.You don’t need to feel bad if you don’t like going to nursing homes. But you should ask Jesus where He’s up for sending you.

3.) Visiting nursing homes is not the only way to BEGIN to look after widows and orphans (James 1:27) but it is a START. 

Just going may not change the culture, but it does bring hope to a number of people when you inquire about the residents, give hugs, and pray for/with folks.

4.) If we want to produce merciful disciples, mercy has to be both TAUGHT and CAUGHT.

If a church teaches mercy, it has to take advantage of local mercy opportunities. There are many ways in which believers can show mercy, this is but ONE of them. The best way to teach mercy is to model mercy.

5.) Youth may just end up liking it. 

After we debriefed, it became clear through their stories that many of them actually liked it. They actually enjoyed it. My wife Amy has to be pried away from talking to folks at a nursing home. Some of the kids weren’t much different. You never know if something will click unless you give people a variety of opportunities (raking leaves in Fall, nursing home, food drive at Xmas, Bible clubs in apt complex). One youth said before the trip, “I like old people.” Many others came to the same conclusion after given the opportunity and almost all wanted to return. Providing a variety of opportunities may allow for youth to find their mercy niche. But we should never assume they won’t like it. I was surprised yesterday for sure.

6.) Youth often only fly when pushed out of the nest.  

My wife is a better youth worker than I am. I divided our group into 3 different teams. When my wife noticed (after one room!) in her team that the youth would be content with just staying in the background, she said, “Ok, you two go, ask these questions, take these cards, and start visiting folks.” She divided her team into two other teams of two and sent them out. Sounds a bit like something Jesus would do I guess….(Mark 6:7) They were pushed out of the nest and had to learn how to fly. And some fairly introverted youth did just that. But they would have “flown”only if pushed. I let my two youth hide behind myself and the other leader, and so deprived them of a great “Jesus help me” opportunity. I’ll be ready for next time around.

We did learn a few things for next time. Don’t bring chocolate and keep my 16 month old son Cade away from the cafeteria. He became very angry that he wasn’t allowed to eat the peas on resident’s plate.