Saturday, November 14, 2015


One evening a few weeks ago, I looked around Joel's Place and took a mental snapshot.
 I loved what I saw and I wanted to remember it. What I saw was an incredibly diverse group of people who were eating, laughing, playing, serving and working side by side.

We had a group from a local baptist church decorating our stage and game room for Halloween. Meanwhile, a Muslim family was having a birthday party for their young son, and next to them were a group of boy scouts, in uniform, working on tying knots. And weaved throughout, were our regular members with nothing in common except a love for Joel's Place. Our pink-haired girls were helping the baptists, while some of our high energy skater boys slowed down long enough to check out the knot-tying. And everyone was excited to share some pizza and cake with the Birthday Family.

I always call Joel's Place "The Great Equalizer". Kids of all races, religions, abilities and identities are just here to have fun. Our Center is a safe haven, where kids are far too busy perfecting a trick or memorizing a new song to notice that someone looks different than them.

Joel's Place is a Christian Organization. For us, that means that we can talk with our kids and pray for the people throughout the world who are hurting, oppressed, displaced and terrorized.  That we can show love and be loved in the same way that God loved us. Unconditionally.

We live in a world filled with fear and suspicion. People are attacked or killed because of their beliefs, or religion, or race. While Joel's Place can't change the political climate or create world peace, we can model respect for people who are different from us. We can create peace in our little corner of Alaska, and hope that our kids carry that peace with them as they go out into the world. We are not only mentoring young men and women, we are raising up Peacemakers.

*Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God