20 Years of Children Rising to Their God-given Potential
By Children Rising | November 1, 2021
Special Contribution by Randy Roth, founder and former Executive Director at Children Rising
“Seek the shalom (peace and prosperity) of the city to which I have carried you.” — Jeremiah 29:7
When I reflect on 20 years of nurturing and empowering children in our community to rise to their God-given potential, I can’t help but go back even further in time. In 1988, I was asked to serve as the senior pastor at First Covenant Church of Oakland. I told the pastoral search committee, “My call is to be of service to the entire city, not just the church.” They took me at my word, and I eagerly moved my family from Oregon to the East Bay.
This idea of serving a community was based on my reading of Jeremiah 29: “Seek the shalom (peace and prosperity) of the city to which I have carried you.” Again and again, I was reminded of what Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount: “You are the salt of the earth…” I think salt is usually in small containers because a little goes a long way, but the key is getting salt out of the shaker and into the community! We need entry points for folks to be beacons of light in a practical way. Children Rising provides opportunities for communities of faith to increasingly turn inside out. Not preaching, but putting words into action.
“Small acts of grace and attention, like mustard seeds, will continue to have an accumulative impact on a child’s future.” — Randy Roth
At the same time, we have never limited ourselves to churches. There are so many caring people out there who want to come alongside the children in our community. I am reminded of a new tutor at Laurel Elementary School many years ago. I watched her tutor a young child. Without telling her who I was or my role, I asked her about tutoring. She said, “You know, my neighbor is a member of First Covenant Church, but I am not. She told me all about the tutoring program, and I asked if I can help too.”
Of course! There are many wonderful children looking for a little extra care.
As I look forward to the next 20 years, partnerships will be foundational to the continued growth of Children Rising. From the very beginning, we did not project our values or ideas onto the schools. We first listened to the needs of the schools. We then served those needs in order to empower the kids. We saw that children and families were stressed, and we engaged with them, developing caring, meaningful relationships.
The momentum is with us. I pray for wisdom to continue listening, and discerning, and not imposing agendas. As ever, small acts of grace and attention, like mustard seeds, will continue to have an accumulative impact on a child’s future. It’s all about holding a crown before our students and then watching them grow into it.
For the children,