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Fringe Kids  

I miss the fringe kids. The ones with the Mohawk haircuts.  The ones that wore spiked collars and weird shirts.  

Somewhere along the way, we got swept into the high school ministry as small group leaders.  The students in our group didn’t come from church.

At first, it was jarring learning about the boy with severe depression, abusing his medicine.  Or the girl with sexual orientation issues. Every one of these fringe kids had a story—and they were mostly all quite sad.

But over time, we got to know them.  More than that, we loved them.  So the weird hair and clothes and body piercings virtually ceased to be visible. 

When our worldly-wise neighbor saw this same motley crew showing up in our backyard for a cookout, he came over on the sly to ask if everything was okay.  We chuckled and assured him all was well.

The cookout was simple, though hardly nutritious: hotdogs and hamburgers. It was also revealing. My wife was serving one of the girls who grabbed a burger, exclaiming, "This is so nice having a home-cooked meal."  When offered a paper plate, she seemed puzzled and then said, "at my house, we just grab whatever food we can.”

As America continues to boil and broil, I can’t help but wonder if part of the answer is for us to be just a bit more intentional about getting to know people who don’t look like us or dress like us or vote like us (we all look different to folks outside our circle!).

Imagine getting to know them enough that—like those youth group kids—we ceased to underscore the differences, but only knew them as friends.

I'm not suggesting there aren't deep-seated problems.  We can't trivialize brutality of any kind.  But surely, followers of Jesus ought to be the first to say, "Hey, let me hear your story."

 

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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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