I was at a Senior Recognition Service at church yesterday where we were honoring recent high school graduates. I was the Associate Pastor at RiverTown Church (where I attended the service) right before we moved to Haiti so a few of the graduates that were being honored were in my youth ministry. It was really good to see these guys and to see how well they were doing and what their plans were for the future. At the same time, it made me immediately think about the kids at All Things New, and really the kids all around Haiti. I couldn’t help but think about the difference between the 18-year-olds I saw standing on the stage and the 18-year-olds that live with us.
As I was thinking about this, I decided to try and find out the high school graduation rate for the 2 countries. In America, it was easy to find out that the graduation rate is 82.3%. It was much more difficult to find statistics for Haiti, but the general consensus was that only about 50% of primary aged children attend school, only about 25% of adults over the age of 25 have ever attended any secondary school, and the most useful graduation statistic that I could find stated that only about 67 out of every 1,000 Haitians have graduated high school. So, as I looked up at that stage in Jacksonville, FL, the first thing that I thought is how blessed these kids were to have the opportunity to finish high school. To be honest, I was also a little jealous that many of our kids would never get to this point and a little determined to make sure that our younger kids who have the potential to finish…finish.
Besides the fact that these kids had just graduated, I also thought about the numerous possibilities these kids have to do something with their lives. To find a job, a spouse, start a family, and put their skills and education to work helping others. I know that each of these things are physical realities and have nothing to do with the most important thing in anyone’s life…a relationship with Jesus. At the same time, these things are important steps and milestones in a person’s life. I also do understand that our kids have the potential to find each of these things and especially as we make it our goal to help them and be there for them. I just couldn’t shake the idea that, because these high school seniors were born in America, they would have unlimited opportunities that our kids would not have. Again, I was very happy for these kids, and especially since I was their youth pastor, it was just so difficult to wrap my mind around the differences between the kids on the stage in front of me and our kids back in Haiti.