A young man is dead. Unfortunately, this is not
an uncommon statement to make in my community.
We see a lot of death here. Even when it makes sense, it doesn’t. Even when there are explanations, they don’t resolve the underlying reality that things should have been better and this should never have happened. It only reveals that there is so much brokenness in people and in systems that they bend towards destruction.
Honestly, since finding Rashad had passed, I have been in a haze. Memories lost to the immediacy of the day to day have rushed back to my mind.
I’ve known this young man for 15 years.
He was a staple… the lifeblood of what we did early on in CHAT. I started to look back at pictures (and we don’t have tons from the early years) of this funny and smiley kid named Rashad. That dude spent a lot of time on my porch, in my house, in my car, and in my family. One of my son’s best friends. One of my favorite people. I loved him so much for his sense of humor.
In any and every situation, no matter how difficult or how serious, he could make you laugh.
At tutoring one night, I saw him making his way through the crowd. He was introducing himself to folks and saying hello to the new tutors. When I asked him what he was up to, he responded, “Yo P, I’m just shaking hands and gettin’ numbers.” Everybody standing around started laughing.
We spent a lot of time together at church and in Bible study. He was one of the first to show me the keen perspective that youth bring to the study of the Scripture. He was a part of our early Street Leader program. Basically, if it was happening he was there. And let me tell you, we spent some good times at King’s Dominion and on camping trips (those were the camping trips where we were never really that well prepared and would always sneak out one night and go watch a movie in the closest town). I just found a song hiding on my hard drive produced by the CHATBoyz called ‘Round Here!!’ Of course, Shad figured heavily on that track (even though he would be the first to admit that rapping is not his thing).
I spent a day with Rashad just before he ended up going back into jail to serve a probation violation. We worked together for a day and then he, Marcus (another part of the old school CHAT crew), and I had some delicious Cookout together.
You better believe we told stories and thought back on those days. They were some good days.
Tuesday, I found out he had passed.
That was also the day that CHAT started all of our summer programs. Our Tiny Tykes Pre-school was starting a camp for 2-4 year olds. Our Summer Day Camp buses were rolling up and I was actually there when I got the news. I was watching kids have a blast surrounded by college students and Street Leaders that love them and are committed to them. High School Mix was starting up at capacity. Everywhere I looked I could find high school age students working for CHAT for the summer… working, digging in… They were having a good day.
These images were the only things that kept me from completely and totally losing it on Tuesday. In that moment, I felt like God gave me a word, “One good day.”
I found myself sharing that word with the staff and with others. Make this a ‘good day’. Make this a day where a kid is creating a memory that will be so amazing that it will be completely lodged in their head forever.
Rashad had those kind of memories and those sustained him in the difficulty that this life threw at him. You see, one good day changes everything.
It is interesting, but all I could think about was Good Friday. One Good Day! It changed everything.
People will tell you that one day in the scope of things doesn’t matter. The entirety of the Bible strongly disagrees. ‘Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere’.
In one day, Jesus dies on a cross to release us from the curse and power of sin. That was one good day.
So, as I have moved through all of our activities and programs this week, I have reminded our staff and volunteers to give our youth a good day, an amazing day. To spend themselves in loving and encouraging and disciplining and enjoying these incredibly precious gifts that God has placed in our care. We can’t control their environment. We can’t stop the storms. We can’t keep them from ever feeling pain or even dying. But, we sure can (through the power of God’s Spirit) give them a good day. One good day. Sometimes that can change a kid’s world — or the entire world.
So, let’s give them one good day. And then another.