Presence or Presents?

Each month during the school year, people from God's Grace Community Church go to Paris Elementary School to honor students who are working hard and improving in their reading and writing skills. Read this reflection on that experience by Terry Herzog, a GGCC participant....and consider reaching out in love to the children of Paris Elementary in some way this year. The next Terrific Readers and Writers ceremony is scheduled for September 30.

And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children. (Isaiah 54:13)

This week I was blessed with the opportunity to serve at Paris Elementary School in Aurora. Having grown up in Aurora as a youth and working as a contractor in Aurora for most of my adult life, I watched this little town transform from a military town supporting Lowry Air Force Base and Fitzsimons Army Post and Hospital, to a city full of diversity in culture and economic class.


Paris Elementary is surrounded by older, rundown apartment building and small single family homes. Yet the old Stapleton Airport, just ten blocks to the north, is a community with homes valued at over $500,000. To the east, located on the old Fitzsimons Army Post is the new University of Colorado Medical School complex, supporting the medical school, the cancer research center, Children’s Hospital, the VA nursing home and soon to be built VA Hospital. This truly is a city in transition.


I have watched the transformation of this city for a very long time. Parts in decay and run down, parts rejuvenated, all with hope and opportunity. One of the greatest challenges we face as adults is taking care of our children. The students at Paris Elementary are blessed to have caring teachers, counselors and administrators. These folks are truly a gift from God. They are faced with the challenge of educating children in bilingual programs and preparing them to be the future of tomorrow. I am reminded of a 47 year old man named Jose Hernandez; as a boy he traveled with his farm worker family between Mexico and southern California and worked in the sugar beet fields. He did not learn to speak English until he was 12 years old. His parents were insistent on his education. As I write this, he is waiting lift off on the Space Shuttle Discovery, heading into outer space, his destination the International Space Station. Jose is proof that opportunity does exist and the sky is the limit.


The time I spent at Paris Elementary this last Wednesday just reinforced what I had learned on earlier experiences I’ve had on mission trips and youth ministry. I was the one rewarded and blessed, as I looked into the eyes of these young children as they were reading their new books. I listened and looked on, wondering where this journey would take them; Jose Hernandez came into my mind, to the heavens he will travel. As adults we all play a vital role in the lives of our young people, as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, as mentors, as teachers as youth leaders and serving in outreach ministry. We are commanded to love one another; especially the children.

Your children need your presence more than your presents ~ Jesse Jackson

Go in Peace and Serve the Lord,

Terry Herzog

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