In the last few months there has been a dramatic increase in gun violence in the community we serve. We often hear the gunfire at school and many of the children also report hearing it from their homes. Although the police have been active, there is undeniable tension in the air as the shooting continues.
We are thankful that none of our students, staff or volunteers has been hurt, but we are finding that the continuous threat of gun violence affects both children and adults. For children it is the carefree nature of childhood that is at risk. They cannot afford to be fully absorbed in playing and learning, because they need to be aware of the danger that could show up at any time. Adults, such as teachers and parents, carry the weight of responsibility to create safety in an unsafe place and must set aside their own fears to give comfort to anxious children. Although our school community is not being targeted, simply being surrounded by violence creates obstacles to hope and normal life.
How does one respond? Firstly, we pray frequently for safety and peace and ask others to pray with us. We have seen many answers to these prayers, not least in the form of none of our students, staff or volunteers being hurt. Secondly, we strive to be wise and careful and to have in place the precautions available to us, such as emergency drills, panic buttons and a well-secured building. Thirdly, we redouble our efforts to do good – to create a place of safety in the midst of threat, to create a place of joy in midst of anxiety and to be a community of hope when hope is being suffocated.
Please pray with us for an end to the violence.