Saturday, March 20, 2010

Focus on the Family’s Welcome Center

During our recent road trip, we passed through Colorado Springs and saw a sign for the Focus on the Family Welcome Center. Frankly, we had never heard of it, and decided to be spontaneous. We exited the highway and followed the signs. As we got out of the car and walked in, my husband half-jokingly asked me if we were going to get arrested for protesting. I rolled my eyes in mock annoyance. Focus on the Family is an organization that has caused me great consternation over the years. But I always try to have an open mind, and try to find common ground with people and organizations, with which I don’t typically agree. Moreover, I had just been very encouraged to read about the success of Focus on the Family’s “Wait No More” program.

When we went inside the Welcome Center, a cheerful young woman greeted us and asked us to sign the visitors’ registration book. As we complied, she gave us a quick summary of what the Welcome Center had to offer—a number of exhibits on Focus on the Family ministries, free coffee in a cafe, an art gallery and a book store. Then looking at our young children, she added that we would definitely want to go downstairs to the kids’ area.

Before we went downstairs, my husband found a small kids’ theater upstairs showing Veggie Tales movies. He sat down with our kids in the theater while I tried to look at the exhibits briefly. Frankly, our little ones were antsy and I didn’t get to explore for long. The exhibits I saw described efforts to encourage Christians to impact their communities for Christ. There was nothing overtly political about the exhibits I saw. There were exhibits on helping the poor, finding homes for foster children, and ministering to expectant mothers to encourage them to not have an abortion. I’m down with all those things.

Then we went downstairs and were blown away by the kids’ area. Among other things, there was an old-fashioned plane where kids could play, an indoor playground, a puppet theater, a stage with kid-sized costumes, a collection of books with a comfy place to read them, more Veggie Tales screenings (including one in a mock Grand Canyon), as well as a huge indoor, winding slide that towered several stories high. Our kids had a blast! It was like a small children’s museum. Our kids didn’t want to leave. I was very impressed with Focus on the Family’s ministry to children in their Welcome Center. It was an amazing facility, and it was generous of them to open it to the public. No one asked for a statement of faith or any money.

Before we left, our family spent a little time in the bookstore, and my husband and I got a free cup of coffee at the cafe. The folks who worked at the Welcome Center were all so cheerful. They seemed genuinely glad we had stopped by, and were pleased to answer questions or just point us to the restrooms. When we initially exited the highway, we had thought we would just pop in briefly to the Welcome Center and stretch our legs. We ended up staying several hours! Particularly for those with children, I highly recommend stopping by the Welcome Center if you are in Colorado Springs. It was a lovely, serendipitous stop on our voyage. We were very appreciative of their hospitality.

3 John 1:5-8 (The Message)

Model the Good

Dear friend, when you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible. They've made a full report back to the church here, a message about your love. It's good work you're doing, helping these travelers on their way, hospitality worthy of God himself! They set out under the banner of the Name, and get no help from unbelievers. So they deserve any support we can give them. In providing meals and a bed, we become their companions in spreading the Truth.

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