From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Commentary: Children need cheerleaders in life's race

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Mon, 13 Jan 2003 14:55:02 -0600

Jan. 13, 2003 News media contact: Linda Green7(615)742-54707Nashville, Tenn. 

NOTE: A head-and-shoulders photo of Connie Davis Rouse is available at

A UMNS Commentary
By Connie Davis Rouse*

This time last year, the United States prepared for the Summer Olympics by
having people participate in the Olympic Torch Relay.  My husband fulfilled a
childhood dream by becoming one of the runners. 

"Run, Luonne! Run!" the crowd cheered, as he dashed down Main Street in
Greenville, S.C.  He was on a mission. He had promised to reach the last
person in the relay, the anchor, before the end of the nightly newscast, as
directed by the promoters. The anchor was #196, and he was #195.   

It was a short distance, but time was of the essence. He ran like the wind,
with people cheering along the way, and he delivered the torch to its final
destination minutes before the newscast ended. Members from our church, where
my husband serves as pastor, were there. They had braved the cold for hours,
and many of them ran alongside him in a show of support.

Not only that, but several other ministers came with their members in tow.
Luonne's supporters showed such excitement that strangers joined in. They
began cheering and chanting his name, as well. People who didn't even know
him came over afterwards to embrace him. The moment was fleeting, but it was
great. What a joyous night it was for him and us all.

Yet, in the midst of all the excitement, I felt a kind of sadness.  I
wondered how many young people there were in the world doing things far more
significant than carrying a torch down the street, but who never ever hear
anyone rooting for their successes. 

My husband was tired, and his legs were cramped from sitting in the bus for
hours as he waited to do his run. Yet when he stepped out and heard the
people calling his name, he gathered new strength. He had a wife, church
members, friends and even strangers cheering him on. Who cheers our children
when they are tired or hurt and feel they cannot go on?

How many children come home at the end of a nine-week period with all A's and
one B and never hear any praise for the A's, only chastisement for the B? 
How many daughters or sons perform in Christmas cantatas with no one in the
audience to applaud them? How many youth groups get no real support from
their churches?  How many youth come to church every Sunday with their
neighbors because their parents refuse to bring them?  How many young people
never have anyone tell them that they believe in them or their dreams?

"You're just like your father. You're never going to amount to anything."
"You're as bad as your mother. I'm sorry you were born." "Our church has no
money for foolishness like that." "I don't like working with children." Is
that what our children hear? 

Perhaps they are the blessed ones. Perhaps they hear, "I love you!" "I
believe in you and all that God has made you to be." "Don't worry, we'll
raise the money." "I'm proud of you." "I'll always be there, no matter what."

And if they are really blessed, they might hear, "Run, children, run!"
If we, as parents would do this for our children, then teachers and even
strangers might see our great excitement and join in along the highways and
byways of our children's lives to also cheer them on. They may even decide to
run alongside our children to give support when our young people become

The races that our children run encompass far more distance than a few
blocks. Their streets are not always paved and lined with lights. There are
few if any fans cheering them on. Their race does not go to the swiftest but
to the one who has the tenacity to finish. There is no single winner. When
one wins, we all win. The loss comes, however, when even one of the sheepfold
is lost. The race they run is called life, and they need us, as adults, to
tell them as often as we can to "Run, children, run!" 

How can we teach our children to persevere in spite of the lack of support?
Isaiah says that those who place their hope in the Lord will have a renewed
strength and "will rise up and soar on wings like eagles. They will run and
not get weary and will walk and not faint." We must minister to every child
with whom we come in contact and teach them to trust in God, who is saying to
each of us every day of our lives, "Run, children, run!"  

If we cheer them on, then perhaps they'll make it across the finish line.

# # #

*Rouse is a free-lance writer, columnist for the South Carolina United
Methodist Advocate and member of Disciples United Methodist Church in
Greenville, S.C.

Commentaries provided by United Methodist News Service do not necessarily
represent the opinions or policies of UMNS or the United Methodist Church.

United Methodist News Service
Photos and stories also available at:

Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home