"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lent - Day 21

”Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and in your purity.”
(1 Timothy 4:12)

For almost all my adult life I have been involved with Student Ministry. It has been one of those things that could be called a passion. A love. A calling. I’ve been a Minister of Students full-time in a church, but also gladly worked as a volunteer leader. There are those who would say I enjoy student work because my emotional age is somewhere in my mid-teens, but my poor injury-ravaged body knows differently. After so many student retreats where I’d tumble from a ropes course and from mission trips where I’d hammer my hand into a pulp, and Disciple-now weekends where I ended up tied to outdoor playgrounds with duct tape across my mouth. My doctor just shakes his head and mumbles something about “age-appropriate behavior. Unfortunately, this same zeal often landed me on “probation” and on “double secret probation” numerous times because of my love for pranks.
Looking back on these years, so many students ended up teaching me far more than I could have ever taught them. I may be sharing some of them during these next days because their impact was (and is) so important to me as I continue to grow.
One student who continues to teach me much is Lauren S. Knowing her for the past 12 – 13 years, I’ve seen Lauren grow from a quite rambunctious, independent-minded girl to a (still) rambunctious, independent-minded collegiate young lady with a heart for God and people. Out of the many stories that I could tell of Lauren’s impact, one in particular stands out in my mind. This is when Lauren was in high school. Our student choir had taken on a project to go help clean up one of Atlanta’s most crime-ridden, poverty stricken, inner-city public housing developments – Bowen Homes. This was part of Hands on Atlanta, but also to begin training our students for an upcoming choir mission trip where they would be doing ministry in inner-city projects, food banks and homeless shelters in Louisville, Kentucky.
The students piled off the bus and vans, we adults were handing out brooms, bags, gloves, shovels, and other outdoor cleaning tools and warning them to watch for loose needles and other drug paraphernalia that was lying all over the area. Lauren was in my group and we headed to an outdoor basketball court where a car had recently been torched and the concrete was covered with broken glass and other “interesting” matter. As we cleaned, we noticed curtains and blinds being pulled back in the apartments as residents began to watch us at work. In a few minutes, Lauren came up and asked if she could get a couple other students, go around to apartments to round up some children and play with them in the open areas. She even said they’d tell Bible stories to them. Naturally, I told her this was fine and a great idea and off she went. It wasn’t 15 minutes later when we heard screams of laughter and we looked up the hill and saw Lauren and a few other of our students surrounded by these children from the projects…different from them in every imaginable way – ethnically, financially, background, etc. The only common thing was that God loved them all. After playing all the games of kickball, tag, Red Rover and others, Lauren finally gathered all the children together under a tree to tell them of Jesus. And she did. And they listened.
Did I think of the children when we were out there cleaning? Nope. All I was doing is strictly what we were there to do. The things on the approved schedule for the day. Lauren and her friends saw the need and went to meet it. That’s why I love student work….their vision. Their lack of shyness to share the Gospel. Their ability to see the need and take it on, regardless. Regardless.
There’ll be more stories of my students in coming days, but for this week, think about Lauren. The high school girl who saw beyond color and material things and did what she knew best. Shared Jesus and, at the same time, taught a group of adult leaders a thing or two about one-on-one true evangelism. Don’t count our teenagers out, just because they are teenagers. They are the future of our churches and of our faith. And they can teach us a thing or two if we just pay attention. That’s my goal for today. Open my eyes, Lord.

Blessed be the name of the LORD!


Post a Comment

<< Home