*Before you read any further, be sure to read Called to Minister - Part 1!*
So my story picks up where I left off a few days ago. It was Friday morning, and we had pulled out of our driveway heading west. We had borrowed Brient's parent's camper to stay in, so we had to drive a little slower and it took us a full two hours to get where we were headed. But right around lunch time, we pulled into our home-away-from-home for the weekend. It took us about 20 minutes to set up camp, and we headed back out for lunch.
After lunch, Brient called the pastor of the church where we would be working to see if anyone was there at the moment to let us in. He said there was, and we were welcome to come on. So we got to the church around 1:30 and began our set-up for the weekend. I had swiped all the things I needed from my children's room at my church, and we had to bring it all in. I had no idea that it would take nearly the entire afternoon to get it all together and ready. We were blessed to be able to use the youth room for the weekend, and for that, we were so thankful. Everything was finally ready, and then all I had left to do was sit back and breathe for a few minutes before kids started arriving.
The revival didn't start until 7:00, but about 6:30 the kids began pouring in. I found out earlier in the day that this church runs a bus ministry and brings in kids from all over, so I wasn't exactly sure what kind of kids I would be seeing. It didn't take me long to realize that these were not the same kind of kids I usually teach. These kids were hungry. They were hungry for love and affection, hungry for some boundaries and stability in their lives, and hungry for God's Word. I made my rounds and started meeting all the kids. One thing I try to do with every kid I meet is to put my arm around them and give them a squeeze as I introduce myself. All of these kids just loved the attention!
Before we got started, Jon (the youth pastor) started passing out some bracelets for each of the kids. You know the ones I'm talking about. They were the bracelets with the colored beads on them that tell the message of salvation through the colors. A little girl came up to me right away and asked me what that bracelet was for. For a split second, I was a little shocked, because I haven't had a kid ask me that in so long. But then just as quickly, I remembered that was the exact reason God had sent me there. And so I began to share the message of salvation with her in a way that she could very easily understand. At that moment, she just thought it was pretty cool and went off to play. But that was OK. I knew God would take care of it from there. I had done my part.
The night got started, and the kids were so excited to be there! They had so much fun playing the games and singing the songs. Generally, praise and worship time is a struggle for me, because the kids in my children's church hate it! HATE IT! (Still can't quite figure out why. It remains a mystery to me.) But these kids LOVED singing and dancing and praising God! They loved coming up on stage with me. And when we had sung three or four songs, they were still begging to sing more - even though I was completely out of breath!!
The theme of our weekend was "Be Like Jesus." I wanted to share with them some of the things Jesus did, so we could see HOW to be like him. So that first night, we talked about how Jesus healed the man's hand on the Sabbath, because He cared more about people than He cared about rules. I made sure to tell them how much Jesus cares about each one of them, because I really doubt there are too many people in those kids' lives who do care about them.
When the evening was nearly over, I had Brient play a slower song, and I had prayer time with them. I asked if any of them wanted to ask Jesus into their hearts, and I told them how to go about doing that. I told them that, if they had prayed that prayer, to be sure to come see me after services, because I wanted to pray with them. At the end of the night, FIVE KIDS found me to tell me they asked Jesus into their hearts - and one of them was the little girl I had shared the message of salvation with at the beginning of the night!! YAY GOD!
When the night was over, we went out to eat with some people from the church. It was loads of fun, but we were so tired! We got back to our camper and crashed at about 11:30 that night.
The next day, we played around town a bit, did a little shopping, took Little Sister to Build-A-Bear to spend a birthday gift card, and went to a hands-on science museum. Then we headed back to the church to get ready for the evening.
I had been in a mindset of prayer the whole day (yes, you CAN have a prayerful attitude even at a children's museum and while shopping!), and I just really sensed that God was telling me to change my lesson for the night. So I stepped out in faith and switched gears.
That night, the kids had just as much fun and excitement as the night before! They were anticipating what was to come. My lesson that night was about when Jesus told Nicodemus that the only way to see the Kingdom of Heaven was to be born again on the inside. When it came time for prayer, we had several kids who came up to pray. I was really thankful that my friend, Emilee, had come with her dad to the revival, and that she wanted to help out, because she was great praying with the kids! No new kids got saved, but we had quite a few that wanted to pray about something.
We made it back to our camper around 11:00 that night. Whew! I was glad that it would be time change that evening, because that meant an extra hour of sleep the next morning!
Sunday morning, we headed to church for the morning service. The kids got to do a song that we had learned in front of the whole church that morning, and they were really excited about that!
My lesson that morning was about Jesus and Zacchaeus, and how it didn't matter how bad Zacchaeus had been, Jesus still forgave him when he truly repented. I told them that sometimes we need to really tell Jesus we are sorry for things we have done, and sometimes we need to be like Jesus and forgive others who have done wrong against us. Sometimes that can be really hard! When it came time to pray with them, I gave them the chance to come and pray at the front, and it was such a blessing seeing all those kids pouring their heart out to Jesus! I could look at those kids and tell you there were people in their lives who had wronged them and who they needed to forgive. My heart just broke for them.
That evening, we played review games to make sure they remembered all the lessons we had learned. They had a great time playing. But by that point, Brient and I were worn out, and the kids were pretty much worn out, too.
After the service was over, we jumped in the truck and started on our two hour drive home. We pulled in to our driveway at midnight that night. We were all quite exhausted!
Here are some things that I learned from that weekend.
1. There really are kids out there who have really bad home lives, bad situations, and no one to love them. There were children every single service who came in crying because they were hungry. Their stomach hurt, because it needed food in it! There were kids there every service who came sick, because their moms knew that the church bus would come and pick them up and get them out of their hair for a few hours, so the moms didn't care. I had to take care of quite a few sick kids that weekend. But I didn't care. They are why God sent me there - to minister to THEM! So I loved on them anyway, and I just prayed and trusted God to take care of my health.
2. Ministry can be hard work, but it is more than made up for in the rewards you get from Almighty God! We were so pooped by the end of the weekend, we could barely get going Monday morning. In fact, it took me nearly all week to get my energy back and get it in one direction again. But my heart is light knowing that I made an eternal difference in those kids lives!
3. I need to always pay attention to God, and if He tells me to change my plan, He has a better one in mind. I was so thankful that I listened to God telling me to change my lesson for the second night. Those kids really needed to hear the message of how to get to Heaven. Because when I left there, all they would have is what I taught them. And I really wanted them to remember THAT! They don't need me to get saved. They only need to know how. So for the kids who didn't ask Jesus into their heart while I was there, that's OK. God will still work on them long after that revival is over. And I taught them what they need to know to do that. So listen to God if He changes the plan!
4. When I ask God to send me out to work for Him, when I am willing, He will answer and He will use me! I was so thankful for the things He did through me that weekend, and for the things He did in my own heart!
5. God made me EXACTLY the way I am for His specific purpose! He did not make a mistake when He made me with a gypsy spirit. He did not make me this way just to torment me by keeping me in one place for my entire life, even though some days it feels like I will never go anywhere. He gave me the energy that I have and the desire in my heart to GO so that I can be of use to Him. And I know that, when He says I am ready, He will send me again.
I am so thankful that my God allowed me to be used to do His good work that weekend. I am so thankful that He allowed me to get outside of the walls that I generally find myself in, and go outside of my comfort zone to reach kids who were unlike most that I am called to minister to. And I am thankful for the ongoing call He has put on my life at my own church to minister to the kids there that need teaching and training. I serve a BIG GOD, and He has a BIG PLAN for my life. I can't wait to see where He takes me next!