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Core Scripture: Proverbs 4:23, Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (KJV)

Today’s youth have so much more to contend with than when I was growing up. My objective is to help youth understand that (1) God loves them and (2) they can trust God and they can have hope in him. Sometimes youth, due to lack of life experience, don’t realize that life doesn’t remain in the same state of affairs and that prayer really does changes things.

Without giving you numbers, I am about to reveal parameters of my age. When I was 6 years old, there was no early childhood programs or pre-K. Kindergarten is the grade we started school. I remember kindergarten being so pleasant. Eating cookies. Drinking milk. Playing in the playhouse and playing with the play stove. Being read to. Taking naps. Just wonderful.

It’s when I got home when stuff happened that made me appreciate being at school.

I was a foster child and felt a disconnect. I will explain the disconnect at a later time. I was at home busy trying to catch my breath when I was hit in the stomach and the breath was knocked out of me. I was busy trying not to get lost when my babysitter (who eventually became my first foster mother) was trying to lose me because she was upset with my mother. I was trying not to be afraid when all the other children were called into the house at dusk and the door was shut when it was my turn and I had to sit on the porch in the dark.

Yes, being in that kindergarten class was my quiet and peaceful time.

Let me say that all foster parents are not like this. I lived in a total of six foster homes and I was very blessed. This was my first foster home. Playing, eating cookies and drinking milk in kindergarten is what happened then; today children in pre-K begin learning computer skills.

While their activities also includes snacks, naps and playtime, they are also introduced to learning how to print the alphabet (even if it’s not legible at first). They even learn some very basic sentence struture. Learning these skills at this young age is necessary as we know to be competitive on the world scene.

In first grade, I tried my hand at being a bully. Didn’t know that is what it was called. But, again, I didn’t feel connected and I recall feeling just like I was drifting along aimlessly. By the time I was out of first grade, I was no longer displaying aggressive behavior.

However, as I grew older, I became more and more aware of feelings of sadness and the loss of not being able to live with my mother. I loved my mother very much and I missed her very, very much. Somewhere between the ages of 9 and 10 years old, I would find myself curled up in an fetal position crying and asking myself, “Why can’t I have a family?”

The hardest times I had with this question is when I would return from visiting my mother. That is when I felt most alone. I finally decided that I could no longer bear this pain and I decided to end the pain. That night I sat on my bed and began to take one pill at a time and drank the water to swallow each one. I lay down and remember snuggling under the covers to get comfortable.

No more pain. No more pain.

I wasn’t afraid and closed my eyes. The next thing I know my eyes opened. I could not believe that I was still here and on top of that I had a horrible stomach ache. I went downstairs told my foster mother (by this time this was the fourth home) I had a stomach ache (didn’t tell her why), and she gave me aspirin and sent me to school.

It was the mercy of God and my ignorance, because I took vitamin pills. Thank God these were not different types of pills with high dosages because I would have taken those. However, I went through the ordeal of the emotional pain and I know what hopelessness feels like and it doesn’t feel good.

By the way, never tried that again.

Around 2004, the third highest cause of death of our youth was suicide. Third highest cause. Today youth are still committing suicide and my message to them is there is hope in God. Choose hope and not hopelessness. I pray that our youth understand the importance of being led by the Holy Spirit in decision-making even in the midst of emotional pain. God bless you.

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