Five Challenges Facing the Church Universal

Five Challenges Facing the Church Universal

Five Challenges Facing the Church Universal

“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought”  (1 Corinthians 1:10 NIV).

Five Challenges Facing the Church Universal

Every church is the Holy House of God. However, the real church is the people and not the building. Therefore, each church has challenges that it must overcome to be successful. The church universal is a blessing from God. The Holy covenant of marriage is applied to Christ and the body of believers is known as the church. The church is comprised of those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and have received eternal life. Christ, the Bridegroom, has sacrificially and lovingly chosen the church to be His bride (Ephesians 5:25–27).  This union is the same union as expressed in Mark 10:8: “… and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

Christ lives in all of us. This is what is mean by ‘living in The Spirit’ rather than ‘living in the flesh.  Consequently, we approach church with a desire to give as a joyful response to all that we have received from His hand.

Below are five challenges of each church. All can be summarized to one root cause: Failure to live in The Spirit.

1.  Discipleship: It is great to attend church on Sunday. We attend to worship, pray, sing, and fellowship. However, it is important that we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior and follow him. Romans 10:9 tells us, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” A disciple has the love of God in his heart and a desire to fish for men. He generously shares his prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness to build up the church.

2.  Leadership: All leaders of all organizations, Christian or secular, need to develop plans to replace themselves, transfer knowledge to the new person and then support the new leader. Jesus modeled this by teaching His disciples and preparing them for leadership.  He supported their works though the Holy Spirit. Also, St. Paul took Timothy and Titus under his wing and prepared them for leadership.

3.  Gossip: We are called to build one another up and not tear each other down with gossip and slander. James 4:11 tells us, “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.” Ephesians 4:29 instructs us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

4.  Forgiveness: If we are going to work together for the glory of God, we must be able to forgive each other. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:15).

5.  Fear: A church must not be afraid of trying new ministries after prayerful consideration. Joshua 1 is a great chapter for those seeking courage. Multiple times, God instructs Joshua to be bold and courageous. In Joshua 1:9 we read, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Don’t be afraid of new things.  God instructs us in Isaiah 43:19, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Prayer: Dear God, Help us to love one another as You have loved us. Through Your grace, together we can solve any problem that faces Your church. Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Meet the Author

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The Traits Of True Leadership

The Traits Of True Leadership

The Traits Of True Leadership

“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26 NIV).

If you are like me, you have seen several books on leadership. The books are typically authored by successful CEOs of large companies or military leaders. These books are often best-sellers and contain very useful information on the principles of secular leadership. The themes are typically along the lines of this: A leader is a visionary. A leader knows how to delegate. A leader surrounds himself/herself with good people. A leader leads by example. A leader is trustworthy. A leader is tough under pressure and, finally, a leader doesn’t tolerate nonsense.

The best leader that ever walked the earth was not a CEO or a decorated military leader. Jesus modeled true leadership to us by his service to others. Jesus was a servant leader who never once used his authority to serve himself but rather to serve and help others. This point is amplified in Matthew 20:28: “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  The Psalmist wrote in 119:125, I am Your servant; give me understanding, That I may know Your testimonies. He is acknowledging himself as a servant to God.. In turn, God wants us to serve him by serving others. Matthew 25 tells the story of the sheep and the goats and contains this great message in verse 40. “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

God is love and wants good for all of us.  His light will always conquer the darkness in our hearts and minds, if we let Him in.  Faith and trust are essential to opening our hearts.  If He loved us so much to send His son to die for our sins, He certainly loves us enough for us to leave our burdens with Him and then walk away with confidence that we are in His hand and there is no better place to be.  Consider the words Jesus left with his disciples immediately following the Last Supper.  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  (John 14:27).  We are His disciples.  Let our hearts not be troubled and let us not be afraid.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for sending Your son to model true leadership, servant leadership, for us. Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Getting To The Heart Of The Issue

Getting To The Heart Of The Issue

Over the years, I have spoken with many Christians and enjoyed having the opportunity to hear their testimony. Some are “intellectual Christians,” so to speak, and believe that science has proved the existence of Christ and therefore they also believe. Many have provided me with compelling arguments for their Christian faith.   I also believe in Jesus and in science.

However, at the heart of the issue is our heart.  Do you believe in Him in your heart and seek him with your whole heart? Jesus taught us in Matthew 22:37, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (italics added).”

God gave us a brain and He certainly wants us to use it to better understand Him. He also seeks a relationship with us and a true relationship must come from the heart. Below are five Biblical themes that emphasize the importance of your heart in your Christian walk.

1. Trust: Trust is probably the most fundamental component in any relationship. We may not always understand His ways, but we are called to trust and obey. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, (Proverbs 3:5).

2. Love: Any meaningful relationship must be built on love, says Baton Rouge’s Todd Shupe. This is especially true with God because God is love, (1 John 4:8).  Jesus replied, “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” (Matthew 22:37).  Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” (Mark 12:30).

3. Seek: Jesus asks us to seek Him. He is asking for us to daily die to our sinful ourselves and live in Him. To do so, we must daily seek His face.  “But if from there you seek the Lord, your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul,” (Deuteronomy 4:29)   “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart,” (Jeremiah 29:13).

4. What Comes Out of the Heart: Jesus was making a new covenant with the people who were unable to maintain the Mosaic law. Food preparation was very important under the old law and was considered necessary to earn your salvation.  [Jesus] said, “It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart,” Mark 7:14-15.

5. Guard your Heart: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it,” (Proverbs 4:23). Our words and opinions first originate in our heart. If we guard our heart and only allow love to enter our heart, then love will flow out of our mouths and will be the basis of our action and ministry. Be blessed as you bless others.

Prayer:  Dear God, Create in us a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within us.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Dealing With Anxiety: Have Faith, For ‘God Is Our Partner’

Dealing With Anxiety: Have Faith, For 'God Is Our Partner'

Dealing With Anxiety: Have Faith, For ‘God Is Our Partner’

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV).

Waiting is a daily occurrence: We wait in line at the grocery store, post office or on the phone. Sometimes, we are waiting long-term for news regarding a loved one who has suddenly become ill or was in an accident. Waiting is also a part of joyous occasions such as the birth of a child or marriage. In any case, worrying almost always leads to anxiety. I have five favorite scriptures that I refer to in times of waiting.

1) In Isaiah 40:31, it says: “…but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

We follow God and he doesn’t follow us. The Lord is promising us His stamina if we have faith in Him. Our faith is demonstrated by maintaining our faith while waiting and knowing that he will act.

2) In Psalm 46:10, He says:Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

This is calming scripture in times of worry and has been my “’go-to’ verse in times of uncertainty.  We should meditate on each word of “Be still, and know that I am God” and peacefully wait for the peace that surpasses all understanding.

3) Matthew 6:26-27 reads:Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”  Our God loves us more than we can begin to comprehend. God will provide His daily bread to us all.

4) In Philippians 4:6-7, it states:Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Once we have prayed and given our worries to God, we are freeing ourselves from the chains of anxiety. God will take our worry and replace it with a peace that cannot be described with mere human words.

5) In Matthew 11:28-30, it reads:Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

God is our partner and once we accept His yoke and let Him work in tandem with us, we can accomplish so much more.

When a friend helps you through a difficult period, he or she is acting as the Body of Christ and providing His yoke to you. In turn, you will hopefully pass the yoke on to somebody else when they are in need.

In summary, remember that you are loved by God and He wants you to come to him in prayer and unburden yourself of worry and fear. You are far more valuable than the birds in the air and the lilies in the field. In fact, you are a child of the risen Christ.

Prayer:  Dear God we live in a fallen world and we have so many worries about ourselves and our loved ones.  Help us to give these worries over to you and to not take them back.  We know that You have plans to prosper us and not to harm us.  We know that You have plans to give us hope and a future.  We thank you for your tremendous love which we cannot even begin to fully comprehend.  Please help us cast out the fear in our lives and replace it with the confidence that can only come from your love.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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My Dream That Carried A Message From God

My Dream That Carried A Message From God

My Dream That Carried A Message From God

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams” (Acts 2:17 NIV).

I have lived 47 years and never felt that I had received a message from God.  I envied the people in the Bible that spoke to God either in person, through dreams or angels. I had decided that I was only going to hear God’s word through Godly friends, church, small groups, and reading the Bible.

I longed to hear God talk directly to me.  Several friends would tell me of dreams or hearing direction from God — but not me.  Two nights ago I heard from God for the first time.  He sent me a dream with people and symbolism that He knew I would understand and would alleviate any anxiety.

In the dream, I was on a bus sitting next to the late Dr. Elvin Choong, who has been deceased for over 10 years.  Elvin was my PhD adviser at Louisiana State University (LSU) and a dear friend and research collaborator for many years.  He was my father figure for many years.  There were many people on the bus, but I did not recognize them and the only person who spoke was me.  As we traveled down the road, we would periodically encounter some sort of road block (fallen trees or a car wreck) and the road would seem to be impassable.

The first time this happened, I told Elvin to stop and that there is no way to get through.   He continued at the same speed and we made it through fine. I have no idea how he did it — but he did.

We kept encountering roadblocks and he kept driving through.  The only thing that changed was my fear was lessened each time until finally I anticipated the road blocks with excitement – I wonder how we are going to get through this road block this time!

Now for my amateur dream interpretation: Elvin was my father figure for many years and he symbolized my heavenly Father.  He was in control; I wanted to do things my way at first but gradually came to trust in Him. I was sitting in the front in a leadership position, but I yielded all authority and leadership to Him. The people in the back represented people that count on me — not necessarily financially or emotionally, but in some aspect of life they count on me to smile when we meet, to be available when they need home repairs, to cut their grass when they go on vacation and to serve the church universal.

I am a leader of many but a follower of Jesus.  This dream gave me peace.  It showed me that God is in control. Life will always bring adversity but with God by your side, you can do all things.  I pray if you are struggling with fear, doubt, worry you will realize that God is with you and will never leave you or forsake you.

These are tools of the enemy to rob you of the joy that God has promised for you. Rebuke them in the name of Jesus.  Be blessed, be happy, be the child of God that He has called you to be.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for sending dreams that bring a message of hope and peace. Be with us as we carry that message to others. Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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What Does The Bible Teach About Race Relations?

What Does The Bible Teach About Race Relations?

What Does The Bible Teach About Race Relations?

“And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation” (Acts 17:26 KJV).

What Does The Bible Teach About Race Relations?

We have had problems in this country with race relations for many years. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark civil rights and federal labor law in the United States, which outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. In recent years, untold news reports have documented the civil unrest in New York City, Los Angeles, Ferguson, Missouri; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Atlanta, Georgia and numerous other cities across our country. This unrest is often associated with police brutality against young black men or other young men of color.

What’s more, such instances have occurred repeatedly with seemingly no plan to curb them. If we turn to the Bible, however, it’s clear that such divisions were never intended by our creator. The

way we should treat each other as evidenced by scripture.

Any time one human dehumanizes another through racism, sexism, ageism, religion or more, it breaks my heart. There is truly one race of people — the human race. Throughout history, the enemy has used his weapons of fear, jealousy and greed to develop hatred and mistrust of the races.

St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:12, “There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body.” Acts 17:26 tells us, “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth.” In other translations, the wording is “from one blood.”

We are all children of God and we all seek to enter His kingdom through the narrow gate. We are all commanded to love and respect one another. A Christian seeks to be a disciple and a disciple is known by their actions.  “By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Be blessed!

Prayer: Dear God, Help us to follow your example and look at the heart and not the outward appearance of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

We welcome your comments below.

Thank you for visiting. We trust that you have enjoyed reading our articles.

Approach Prayer With Confidence And Thanksgiving

Approach Prayer With Confidence And Thanksgiving

Prayer is an essential component to our relationship with God. We offer prayers for those who are sick or in need of help and prayers of thanksgiving for our blessings. Prayer is also a time for us to be quiet and listen for the gentle voice of God. The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” We all would be wise to focus on this promise while we wait on the Lord.”

Even if I don’t hear a response to my prayer, I can still come away with peace and comfort knowing that God is God and He loves me more than I can begin to understand.  His presence and promises can give us a peace that transcends all understanding.

It is important for us to approach prayer in the right manner.  The Bible tells us what to pray — “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13) — and also where to pray – “In your room,” (Matthew 6:6).  However, it does not necessarily tell us how to prepare for prayer.

Good works are how we show Christian love to others.  However, our works should flow naturally as a result of our love for Christ and our desire to share His love.  Ephesians 2:8-9, teaches us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

I think too many Christians approach prayer in one of two ways. First, many come to God in fear and doubt. We know that God can do what we are asking — but are fearful that He will not do it as we want or when we want.

The second group of Christians I refer to as the “Santa Claus Christians.” They think that if they are good all year then when they make a prayer request to God that He is “obligated” to do as asked. In both cases, resentment can develop if God does not provide what is asked and when it is asked.

It is important at this point to note that we follow God. God does not follow us, and this fact provides the opportunity to tell the story of God leading His people in Exodus 13:21-22. “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.”

I encourage you to approach prayer with confidence and thanksgiving that God already knows what you need and is already at work in delivering it to you.  Also, what He provides will likely not be what you requested. Instead, it will be better and it will be a holy blessing upon you. God loves you more than you can ever understand.

He will most certainly listen and respond to your prayers. We must be open to His response and accept it with gladness and thanksgiving because any gift from God is precious and holy — as was His son.

Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for the blessing of prayer and may we always be grateful for this means of grace.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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The ‘Fruit of The Spirit’ Attributes

The ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ Attributes2

The ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ Attributes

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV).

“The Fruit of the Holy Spirit” is a Biblical term that sums up nine attributes of a Christian. According to Paul the Apostle in his Epistle to the Galatians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).  These are all characteristics of the Holy Spirit’s active presence in lives and a healthy Christian soul contains all of the fruits. There are nine attributes and each is a unique blessing.

1. Love:  Love gives freely without looking at whether the other person deserves it and it gives without expecting anything back. “Agape” describes the unconditional love God has for the world.

2. Joy:  Joy is contentment that is independent of the good or bad things that happen to us. True joy is evident in gladness during hard times (James 1:2-4). This is a supernatural joy that comes from the Spirit and is present regardless of our circumstances.

3. Peace:  Peace from the Spirit transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and gives us a sense of calm knowing that God is in control and He loves us dearly.

4. Patience:  Other words that describe this fruit are lenience, long-suffering, forbearance, perseverance and steadfastness. Patience includes the concepts of forbearance, long-suffering and the willingness to bear wrongs patiently (Romans 5:3-4).

5. Kindness:  This fruit is evident in a desire to serve others. Kindness is the light that will conquer the darkness (malice).

6. Goodness:  True goodness is the character of God. Goodness is exhibited by your desire to see goodness in others and recognize all others as children of God.

7. Faithfulness:  A faithful person has integrity beyond reproach. We walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

8. Gentleness:  Gentleness chooses to defer to others. It forgives others, corrects with kindness and lives in tranquility.

9. Self-control:  Self-control is dying to our self and our desires of the flesh. It is choosing to live in the Spirit and follow His will.

We should all periodically review this list. One of the hardest things we can do is an honest self-evaluation of ourselves. John Wesley, the founder of the United Methodist Church, recognized this and organized “class meetings” in which attendance was mandatory and participants were asked to honestly answer questions regarding their spiritual health. The mission statement of the United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. A disciple should be able to honestly assess his or her status on the nine fruits of the Spirit above.  I pray that we all will be a better disciple each day and will help bring about transformation of the world.

Prayer:  Dear God, As we grow closer to you may the Fruits of the Spirit be manifested in us as a powerful witness to You.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Children of Incarcerated Parents Need Caring Volunteers To Improve Quality Of Life

Children of Incarcerated Parents Need Caring Volunteers To Improve Quality Of Life

“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 13:3 NIV).

The errors that parents occasionally make all too often end up on the shoulders of their children. Failing to secure a well-paying job before having kids, not having a home fit to raise children in or having kids while the relationship between you and your partner is failing are just some signs of a rough road ahead. While the ramifications of some of those mistakes aren’t as life-altering as others, ending up behind bars is a monumental disruption that is going to require complicated logistics to work around. Incarceration has a terrible effect on children.  I like to volunteer with Grace Camp and help children of parents who are presently behind bars by going fishing with them.  As simple a gesture as it may be, an afternoon fishing trip is just one example of programs and services that good Christian men and women can participate in if they’d like to help kids in need. In this article, we’ll explore some of the facts surrounding the children who so desperately need a compassionate figure in their lives who can also provide a sense of comfort and control.

While government-run or non-profit programs to help these children vary from state to state, the size of the problem can’t be under-estimated. For example, recent figures show that a little more than 81,000 children in Pennsylvania alone had a parent in state prison. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), children living with one parent while the other is behind bars is the most common outcome. However, grandparents, other relatives, friends, and foster agencies often fill the void. It’s easy to extrapolate from here that not every household is equipped to provide the adequate level of care; a grandparent or foster care facility simply can’t take the kids out to play the same way that a parent could. The federal Child Welfare Information Gateway further shows that parental rights can be terminated is a child has spent 15 of the past 22 months in foster care or simply abandoned. “With the average sentence being more than 1 year, this requirement can be a significant barrier to reunification for incarcerated parents,” a recent HHS child welfare document reads.

These vulnerable children are the ones who need the most love and volunteering your time to help those in foster care while they await adoption is one of the most self-less things an individual can do.  Given that there are an estimated 2.1 million people in jail across the U.S., it’s time someone start looking after the lives they left behind.

Prayer:   Dear God, Help us to realize that when we visit those in prison we are visiting You. Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Thank you for visiting. We trust that you have enjoyed reading our articles.

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