As we continue in A1:8 Missions month, it is our hope that you will talk about missions and service together as a family. We are excited for you to hear a few first-hand accounts from our NCC missionaries who are serving in the countries and cities about which your family will be learning!On February 6, 1996 the Southeast White House (SEWH) opened its doors with the mission to be a presence for Jesus in the neighborhood. To better meet the needs of their neighbors, the leadership started by asking questions and getting to know the neighborhood’s needs on a personal level. The successes of the SEWH have been made possible through the time, talent, and treasure of the neighborhood’s support. One such need that is being met is providing a positive, safe, and educational environment for children in the community through the after- school program. Children come from 3:30-6pm to receive help with homework, have an activity for the day like art, and enjoy a snack before going home. Ernest Clover first came to the SEWH as a volunteer in 2007 and currently serves as Director. We asked him to share a story with us regarding the Southeast White House in regards to their children's after-school program. Here is what he had to share.
When our children, ages eight to ten, come to our afterschool program, they have to recite a familiar creed, “Treat people the way you want to be treated” before they enter the Southeast White House. This is how we set the tone for our time with the children before they get busy with snack, homework, and our daily activity. One such day, there was a brother and sister who got into it in art class. Being in the office, I was able to hear them raise their voices and the teacher struggle to regain order in the class. So, I went out and asked the two to step into my office. I pulled up two seats for them and proceeded to ask them what happened as they took their seats. Before their bottoms even could hit the seat they were trying to over talk each other and when they didn’t think they were being heard they both blurted out, “You lying!!!” louder than the other person. I asked them both to stop speaking and I let the brother know that we let ladies go first so I wanted to hear from his sister. She started off by telling me what happened at home in the morning before school, then what happened on the way to school, what happened at lunch, and then what happened that moment in art class which was as simple as her brother asking to use her pencil for it’s better eraser. I then turned to him and asked him to share his side of the story. He mentioned all of the same events just added in what his sister did. In that moment I realized a few things:
The issue of the pencil was of no real consequence to either of them it was just a way to continue the fights from earlier that day.
They both tried to hide what they did in their personal retelling of the day.
They both wanted to be “right” and have their aggressions justified by an adult for approval.
I proceeded to have them both recite the creed and then I asked them both to tell me their stories of the day but to give me an example of what they could have done if they followed the creed instead of their own desires. At the end of their retellings I told them something they already knew, “You are brother and sister and you have to look out for one another.” They let me know that they have heard this before but they explained that it’s hard to do because at times they don’t feel like being together or helping each other out. I let them know that while that may be the case, it doesn’t excuse them from not loving one another. It’s at this point I encouraged them to apologize to one another, not just for their actions but for not truly demonstrating their love for one another.
The Scripture that was in my heart in that moment was the Great Commandment,
“ Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
This is an example of one of the many opportunities to speak into the every day lives of the young people at the SEWH. As mentors, just like in parenting, we must teach our children the truth of Scripture because these truths will be what is stored up in their hearts as they mature. While the creed at the Southeast White House is based on this Scripture you must come up with your own creed which will be the bedrock that you come back to whether it is to celebrate a triumph or for correction. I would like to give a few things to remember when you are navigating the teachable moments around conflict.
- Seek first to understand your children’s point of view before you seek to be understood.
- Ask questions to learn more.
- Have your child recite your own creed and ask them to share how they could have done things differently if they lived it out.
- Encourage them to apologize not only for the issue at hand but for the deeper issue of not loving one another.
Together we can navigate difficult moments with young people so that they become opportunities to speak truth, encouragement, and love.
The mentoring program at the Southeast Whitehouse is one expression of the many ways NCC seeks to support our local community. For more information about the many opportunities to serve our city, visit aoneeight.org
How you can help:
- Volunteer at the DC Southeast Whitehouse. This is a home for all people that provides basic needs and after school care to children in the community. Contact Ernest Clover for more information.
- Donate supplies for the NCC InService Homeless ministry. Contact Jill Carmichael for more information.
- Collect donations or lead a fundraiser to raise money for the DC Dream Center.
Ernest and Rachel Clover have been married for seven years and have a one year old son named Dylan. Rachel is a Head Start teacher at Thomas Stone Elementary and Ernest serves at the church as Local Missions Director overseeing the Southeast White House and DC Dream Center. They attend the 9 AM Barracks Row campus and have been a part of our NCC family for six years.