An Inconvenient Compassion

Compassion is so inconvenient.

I flew back from the midwest Monday, I fly out again tomorrow morning for another speaking weekend… this has been a crazy three days. Add to that… “Jack.” That’s what the kids have named the stray that wandered into our life yesterday.

Lori and Alyssa  went on a run yesterday and happened upon “Jack.” He’s a medium sized dog, probably six months old, a little too skinny, unrecognizable as any breed… a mutt by all standards. He ran up to them with no collar, no tags and no worries- tongue out and ready to play. Unfortunately that meant dodging in and out of traffic along the roads.

Lori tried to get him to stop running in the street… but he didn’t always respond when she called to him. Enjoying the freedom, he would run a block ahead, stop, turn, then dart out across the road again, oblivious to the fast moving cars.

“Jack” followed Lori and Alyssa for a mile. Finally Lori burst in our front door and brought me into the loop. “Jonathan, a stray has been following us for a mile. He’s totally stupid. He’s gonna get killed.” (No time for tact.)

My first thought was, “A stray? Today? Isn’t that someone else’s problem?”
 
Apparently not, because even as I had that thought, we heard tires screech to a halt and a horn blare. Lori said, “See. That’s probably him again. He keeps running into traffic.”

We ran a block, following the sounds of horns and cars slamming on their brakes. As we rounded a corner we saw him- standing in the middle of the street like, ‘anyone want to play?’

He apparently liked Lori, so I told her to call him. She got down in a squat, “Here pup. Here boy.” He cocked his head to the side, paused, then ran full sprint to Lori and enjoyed a good scratching behind the ears. I ran and got a leash from the house and we brought him to our side yard.

Immediately the kids started in with, “How cute.” And “We’ll call him Jack.” And “What if he doesn’t have a home?” All loaded statements!!!

I quickly told them. “Kids. We have two dogs. We can’t keep Jack.” (Dang… I called him Jack!)

The kids were silent. I looked at his stupid little happy face and his brown little eyes. I couldn’t just let him run free in the street. I knew it was a matter of moments before he was gonna be hit.

“We will do our best to find ‘Jack’ his home… or a home.” I added.

So ‘Jack’ is now in our yard. He’s a digger, so we had to moves some rocks around and reinforce some fences. He spent the night in a kennel in our garage, with regular visits from my three kids and Jethro, one of our dogs.

Today now entails taking him to a nearby vet to have him scanned for a chip (Now most dogs have chips implanted in their coat in case they are lost. We’ll check to see if he has one since he has no collar and no tags). My wife called county animal care this morning and left a description of the dog in case someone calls missing him. The next step, if there is no chip… DOG FOUND signs with our phone number and his picture.

Compassion is very inconvenient. We’re hours into this dog already. Why? He was in danger. And no one else cared.

Such is ministry for many of us. Plenty of kids roam our community that would be very inconvenient to reach out to. They don’t have a faith, they don’t have a church home, and in all honesty, they seem content with their freedom.

Some people just ignore them and drive by them. After all… we don’t have much time.

Others might stop and try to make contact. But these strays aren’t always easy to connect with. It takes time and effort.

Dang!

Compassion is so inconvenient.

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UPDATE: Lori just took “Jack” to the vet to get him scanned. He is chipped. (Whew!) His name is Trooper and he lives about a mile from us. They’ve been looking for him. Heading there now.

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UPDATE: We just dropped him off. His owners were really greatful. They have a collar and tag for him, but had it off. He slipped out yesterday while the owner was working in the yard. It was good to see he had a home.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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