As we walked into the old run down building, I was initially focused on one young woman in particular, than on where we were or why we were there. A moment later, my leg was being grabbed by a very small person who looked up to me with eyes screaming, “hold me.” I must confess, for a young high school student, this was a very confusing moment.
This was my first “mission trip” and I was told we would be helping young children who lived with very challenging circumstances, but I was not aware just how dire their lives were.
As the hours moved into days, my attention shifted completely from my peers (and yes, the aforementioned young woman) to the children we were serving. I had always been good with little kids, but having the opportunity to really spend significant time being present with these young ones was nothing short of transformational. In fact, it was one of the foundational experiences of my life that has led to a life long calling to work with young people.
This Sunday, throughout the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, we will be lifting up the phenomenal ministry of the Sheltering Arms Foundation. Established by Deaconess Annette Relf in the late 1800’s as an orphanage, and for the last 30-plus years as a granting agency, Sheltering Arms has always been committed to improving the lives of young people. As is clearly stated in their mission statement:
“The Sheltering Arms Foundation’s mission is to invest in the lives of Minnesota’s children and help them reach their full potential.”
Over the last 30 years, Sheltering Arms has awarded over 650 grants (including to Episcopal faith communities) for more than $10 million. They have also been on the leading edge of what we refer to as Missional Innovative Partnerships, working with a variety of organizations and agencies to advocate and make legislative changes that benefit children in our state.
We have invited all of our faith communities this year to engage in God’s Mission by engaging all of God’s Children, and I can think of no better partner in doing so than Sheltering Arms.