While I was walking through the boys and girls club in Fairfield Court last week, a young girl about 14 years old, showed me a piece of her artwork. In the center is a cross with the words “proverbs” and “Chapter 31:10” drawn across it like banners. At the bottom of the page were the words “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is worth far more than rubies.” While the words of proverbs 31:10 were the centerpiece of this drawing, there were many other scriptures in smaller print across the page along with angels, hearts with wings, and verses written on scrolls. I asked her what inspired her to draw this particular picture and she said, “My sister’s tattoo. I looked up the verse and I really liked it.” I guess God can use all things for good.
This evening I was thinking about that little girl, her obvious love of God’s word, and the innocent sweet spirit she possesses. In a community in which many of the girls her age have already lost their sense of dignity, this girl is clinging to the hope of being a virtuous woman.
So often when we think of urban teens, images like this are not the first to enter our minds. We often envision these communities that are plagued by crime, drugs and prostitution as being devoid of Christ spirit. It seems impossible that the spirit of Christ could dwell in such places. Yet there stood Christ, in the face of a little girl.
I looked up Proverbs 31:10 this evening in a couple of different translations and below is what I found:
New Revised Standard: “A capable wife, who can find. She is far more precious than jewels.”
New International Version: “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.”
King James Version: “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.”
New American Standard Version: “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.”
It seems my young friend looked up the verse in one of the only translations that used the term “woman” instead of “wife.” I wonder if she would have been as drawn to the verse had she looked it up in the NIV.
Within the Fairfield community, it is doubtful that she knows anyone who is married. There are only a few married couples in the entire 440 unit complex. Marriage is almost unheard of among the families we work with. There are many reasons for this and I honestly can’t explain it. It is just the reality of most of our cities impoverished communities.
Several years ago, my dear friend Rosalind Barnes, choose to step outside of this cultural norm of her community and marry. It is her picture you see in this post. For those of you who have read my book, you will recognize Rosalind’s name as one of the many “characters” who helped keep me going when I was starting Embrace Richmond. Rosalind is a proverbs 31:10 woman, no matter which translation you choose. She risked losing her housing voucher and other government support when she chose to marry. However, pleasing God was more important to her than manmade rules or financial stability.
If you have read the book you know that Rosalind did not start off in life with a desire for virtue. She suffered much as a result of being born into poverty in a violent New York housing complex. My prayer is that my young friend’s innocence remain untainted by the community around her and that someday she too will wear a white veil and live into the full meaning of this verse that so deeply touched her.
What role do you think Christians should play in helping to insure urban teens are able to thrive in the world around them? How might churches get involved in this effort?