I am in Ohio this week for the Pan Hope Ohio Bike Ride for the American Cancer Society. While I am away, I thought you might like to hear from my daughter, Sarah, who has been working with an Urban Ministry in Memphis, TN. Sarah’s job has been to help host youth teams from around the country as they come for a week to minister into the urban community. With different teams each week, staff members like Sarah become the consistent portion of the ministry as they conduct Bible clubs and work projects in a way that conveys the love of Christ. Each week Sarah has written short update messages. Today’s message is the last. I pray you will be blessed!
I’m sitting in a tiny cross-shaped garden looking through a gate to the cracked street and a few dirty houses. I’ve been flipping back through my journal. I began with a feeling of despair, but I have noticed many answered prayers.
I despair because there are only two weeks left of my time here. I will have to say goodbye to my kids. Likely, I will never know their futures or whether they will choose to live for Christ. I will feel as though there was so much more I could have poured out for them. I think I’ve already caught glimpses of what this will feel like. So many of the kids that I took for granted in the past few weeks have been ripped from their homes before I had the chance to grab them up and look them in the eyes and tell them how deep is the Father’s love for them. I am so ashamed. So many have been here one day and gone the next, into the hands of distant relatives or foster care. I could have done and said so much more. And to be very honest, I am afraid I will not know how to fix this in the next two weeks. Apparently, going into the mission field won’t fix how deeply I fail at love. But I still retain joy because I see God doing great things even though I fail. Here are a few ways he has answered my prayers this week:
1) There are several kids who I have been praying would come to Bible club that finally came for the first time this week. Yay! Praise God!
2) This week I felt convicted about my surface level words and actions towards Ms. Laura and the grandkids. I prayed that God would give me insight as to where they were spiritually. Before I tell the outcome, let me describe the progression. Two weeks ago I saw a removal of all apprehension in Ms. Laura about me visiting her house every day. Lil’ Gabby and Ronnie Joe Jr. started giving me excited hugs every time I visited. Seeing them was the best part of my day. Last week Lil’ Gabby proudly presented to me a tattered toy that she wanted me to have. I thanked her profusely. I was reminded of our useless gifts to God in which he so delights.
Over the past two weeks I got to talk to the kids’ mom quite a bit. She is a beautiful woman, despite her red and black, damaged eyes and blanket of tattoos. She told me she wanted to be involved in her kids’ lives. I was so upset this week when Ms. Laura whispered to me that she had left again.
When I came back from my short escapade at Rosamond, the kids freaked out and Ms. Laura said, “Somebody’s sure been missing you! We thought you up ‘n left!” I began to feel convicted about my boldness in speech of Jesus Christ. I prayed one night that God would give me some indication of what this family believed about our Lord. The next day I only mentioned the word Bible when Lil’ Gabby said “I have a Bible!” She ran to bring it to show me. Ms. Laura explained that their grandpa had sent them a children’s Bible this summer and Ms. Laura had begun to read it to them every night. I turned to the page with the cross. Lil’ Gabby said, “Jesus died for me. Now he’s up there.” “And he’s also right here giving you a big hug like this,” I hugged her. Yay! Praise God!
3) As I already mentioned, God continues to do awesome things without my own initiative. I have a favorite Bible club kid named James. He is nine, on my walking route, and always asks me to tell him fairytales. He started telling some to me too. They were a bit altered, but I could guess from the basic plot that they were “Hanzel and Gretel” and “The Sword in the Stone.” Oh how precious he is! He started calling us “King James” and “Princess Sarah.” On Monday, when few kids came to Bible club, I asked him to pray with me on the way home that more kids would come. On Tuesday, when we reached the same spot, he asked if we could pray again. After, I asked him if he ever prays at home. He said, “My mama don’t really talk about Jesus.” That night I prayed fervently that God would give me insight as to his salvation. On Wednesday, before we were to walk home he ran to me so thrilled. He said he had just prayed that God would save him and make him His child. He told me the things the team members had been talking about (the Gospel). He said he had known those things for a while but had never made the decision to follow Jesus. He had talked with the leaders and prayed with them. He was hugging everybody. He told me all the way home why he was so excited both to go to heaven and to have a good Dad here on earth. Yay! Praise God!
P.S. This picture is James on the day he became a Christian.
Have a Christ Centered Day!
God’s Daily Word Ministries
**** Reading Plan ****
Jul 25 2 Chronicles 14:1-16:14; Romans 9:1-24; Psalm 19:1-14; Proverbs 20:1
Jul 26 2 Chronicles 17:1-18:34; Romans 9:25-10:12; Psalm 20:1-9; Proverbs 20:2-3
Jul 27 2 Chronicles 19:1-20:37; Romans 10:13-11:12; Psalm 21:1-13; Proverbs 20:4-6