Tonight I spent the evening at the Laura Dester Shelter, which is our city’s emergency shelter for children. When the police pick up the kids from a house because of neglect, abuse, or their parents being arrested, the kids go the the shelter. The idea is then that the kids move out of the shelter and into a family environment, either with a relative or at a foster home. Apparently the babies are usually placed very quickly, but there are some kids who are older who can stay at the shelter for weeks and even months.

I spent tonight playing with kids who were 3-7 years old. They were normal kids who had probably experienced worse things in their little lives than I had in my whole life. We just hung out, ran around, played some games, and read some stories. I was surprised at how quickly they clung to me and climbed all over me. Everyone wanted love and attention. And it was so natural for me to spend time with each of these kids, individually and as a group. The sadness of the situation didn’t really hit me until I left.

Here’s my takeaway: I always pray for God to make me salt and light in the world, but in general I am in Christian surroundings. Basically I’m salt in a salt-shaker, or a flashlight in the sunlight. Salt is used to bring flavor and life to bland food, and lights are of the most use in the dark. I work with kids who are from good situations and safe homes every day. But I can also volunteer at the shelter and bring love and peace and life into the lives of kids who need that love a lot more desperately than the others.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)