Over the last year, I have been traveling more than usual. From family get-togethers, through work related trips, to sending my son to college, my rapid rewards points have piled up quite nicely. Here is the list of places I have been over the last nine months: Ghana (1), Boston (5x), Washington DC (3x), Austin (1), Orlando (1), Greensboro (1), Joplin (1), and Atlanta (2). Each of these trips were meaningful and important in their own way, but the one thing that remained consistent through them all was the great relief I felt when I returned to my family and friends.
Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote, “Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” There is something magical about returning home after a long trip. Now, don’t get me wrong, Missy and the boys have never rolled out the red carpet, waved palm leaves, or sang praises honoring my return. However, the smell of pork tenderloin in the oven and the sounds of homework being completed by rap music fill my heart and soul.
Sadly, however, not everyone has a home like mine. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, violence by family members or close friends is on the rise. One in three women and one and four men have been victims of violence by an intimate partner, while one in five women and one in seven men have been victims of severe physical violence. For children, one in fifteen children are exposed to violence each year, while 90% of these children have been eye witnesses to violent attacks (www.ncadv.org).
My heart breaks when I think about families suffering in silence, as anger and violence begins to take over their homes. At NorthHaven, we have started a monthly gathering called, Family Matters. During the meeting, we leave the topics open for discussion which has led to a variety of conversations. Most have been pretty docile, but there are times when you catch a glimpse or hear a story that breaks your heart. As the church, we are called to pray for these families, but we are also called to take them into our fold and let them experience the love of home.
In a world that often feels dark and where people feel alone, the church can be a home for them to discover love, acceptance, and hope for a better tomorrow. The Gospel can still be the Gospel if the church chooses to enact it in our ministries and relationships. In other words, we need to offer more open doors and help fix broken windows