Friday, 15 April 2016

What Attawapaskat Needs

Yesterday and this morning I attended a retreat with a group of Youth Pastors and others involved in presenting the Alpha Youth Film series in various contexts.

One of these was a teacher in a First Nations school on a reserve in Central Alberta. Conditions on the reserve are horrendous for children to be growing up in. She has been running Alpha there for about two and a half years, with some amazing success stories. Here are some of the points she made:
  • Often, more kids will come to Alpha than come to school. In other words they will stay home from school and come after school for Alpha. On Alpha they hear a message of acceptance and grace.
  • School is sometimes the only safe place for some of these kids. They go home to addiction and violence. Junior high school students often have to go home to cook and look after their siblings. Alpha is a chance to be served food they don't have to cook themselves.
  • A number of children who have been on suicide watch have been taken off it. Alpha saves not only souls, it is literally saving lives.
  • Kids with behaviour problems are given leadership roles. They will take these opportunities and, "run with them," according to this teacher.
  • The reserve health centre has noticed the difference Alpha is making. They have actually come to the school to see what is having this effect and why.
  • The band Chief is a great supporter of Alpha, and Alpha is enjoying increasing community support.
If only people could see. Alpha makes a difference. For the better. And it's a statistically verifiable difference. I have said I ran Alpha in a prison. Here are some undeniable numbers:
  • the recidivism (reoffending) rate in Canadian prisons of released offenders is about 76%
  • for inmates who complete and come to faith on an Alpha course in prison, the rate is about 16%
Attawapaskat needs Alpha; well, needs Jesus, but you know there would be a great hue and cry if anyone really said so publicly. I find it frustrating when so many people are so up in arms over a tragedy such as we have seen in this First Nations community, yet the solution is right at hand. If only the world could see what it truly needs and the One who can satisfy those needs.

But that's why we do what we do.

Blessings,

John

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