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From the Executive

Ignite the Light 2015

Speech by: Deborah Cathers-Seymour

Hello Friends,

Thank you for coming today!

It is good of you to come and it means so much to everyone, to staff, Board, participating youth and to me.  You are proof that we aren’t along meeting the challenges we face.  Your presence truly encourages and strengthens us.

A quick glimpse into my world.  I was meeting with Mark Warner the other day, filling him on the latest in the roller coaster ride that is CYFS.  As I spoke, I could see his eyes widening, his jaw dropped, his shoulders slumped, and his head started turning back & forth.  For a minute I thought I would have to use a defibrillator, but it turned out he was just going through culture shock as his world of mortgage loans collided with the topsy-turvy world of raising traumatized trouble youth 24/7

Whether it’s the latest “melt down” in a home, another bureaucratic unfunded mandate hitting our financial life raft, to a new volunteer, it can all seem like the wild, wild west meets the Twilight Zone.  It is hard to image how this many unpredictable moving parts can be business as usual and “okay”.  But, as you can see, Mark really is fine, he was just being super sympathetic that day.

His questions, though, are valid and they mirror the questions everyone has who becomes closely involved in this rescue operation:

                “How come it is like this?”

                “How can we fix this?”

                “How can we continue like this?”

                “How can you (Deborah) continue doing this?”

To answer I could tell you about the Good Samaritan who paid for the health care of the battered man he found along the road.  In other words “we just do it”.  It’s the real thing”.

Or, I could tell you about the Good Shepherd who left 99 sheep to find one lost lamb.  Jesus was the original “no child left behind” policy setter.

But, instead let me answer the questions with a different story, a historical event I was reminded of just Sunday. 

There was a leader in ancient Israel, name Jehoshaphat.  He and his people were under siege by three powerful enemy armies.

These armies were coming to conquer, destroy and enslave his friends and family.  He knew his troops were vastly outnumbered.

A normal response under the circumstances would be “run for the hills” or “every man for himself” or maybe start waiving the white flag.

But, instead, this is what he did.  He called all the people together; then he reminded everyone of God’s greatness and God’s history of faithfulness.  Then he prayed out loud, telling God all about it, how his enemies were too great and how they needed God’s help and deliverance.  Everyone fasted and prayed with Jehoshaphat.  Then God spoke these comforting, wonderful words:

“Fear not” “The battle is not yours but God’s”  “Stand still and see God save you”.

Then Jehoshaphat called out the musicians to play and sing songs of gratitude and thanksgiving.  In their darkest hour, the nation was singing.  That’s thinking outside the box.  That’s faith.  Jehoshaphat imagined possibility.  Finally a scout returned.  He had an amazing report.

The enemy armies were lying dead all over the plain.  They had turned on one another and destroyed themselves.

True story – 2nd Chronicles 20

At CYFS this story answers our perplexing questions and circumstances.

When in doubt gather, pray and give thanks.

Sing!  Imagine the possibility of a miracle.  Image God doing what we can’t do for ourselves.  Against all odds!  Through the Great Recession, CYFS is still here after 45 years CYFS is still serving more people than ever – 1,000 plus locally every year and that is not counting indirect impact on families and relatives, etc.  CYFS is making a bigger difference than ever before against all odds.  These, our traumatized, abused, betrayed and broken hearted kids, are beating the odds, too.  They are imagining a new possibility for themselves as they let in the love.  That’s where healing begins…

They overcome their pain and stop passing it on.  Their rage and despair and self-destruction turns to hope, peace, love and joy.  They discover that they do matter.  They matter to all of us.  If they didn’t, you wouldn’t be here.

Mark Twain said, “The proper office of a friend is to side with you when you are wrong – nearly everybody will side with you when you are right”.

Kids mess up.  Some mess up a lot – for a long time.  CYFS believes in them anyways.  We hang on.

The Good Book says – while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

Today, you are here being a true friend.

Today with your support, these precious young people are restored, their homes are beautified, their care is sustained and their opportunities are expanded.

Thank you and God Bless you for being here.

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by Dr. Radut.