This place never disappoints.
Yesterday some of the leaders led the weekly Thursday “Youth Service.” Usually, it’s a time of praise, worship, skits, some sort of teaching and prayer. Fun to see the kids in a different (although oftentimes still hyper!) setting.
In the past, these youth services emerge as the highlight of the trip. As of tonight, it’s sealed in the bag…yet again….absolutely INCREDIBLE. (I’m still in process mode.)
Two profound things happened (and I apologize upfront because even the words cannot paint the picture of what we experienced):
(1) One of the leaders, Becky, invited the “Minnesotans” to the front of the Church. She then asked for hands of kids to come up and stand by one of the Minnesotans and share with the group about somethng he/she was thankful for in that person. Almost all the hands when up, but she only chose 1-2 kids to stand by each of us.
She then allowed each little nino/nina share what was on their hearts.
“I’m thankful for piggyback rides.”
“I’m thankful for being my benefactor.”
These were the typical (and GREAT!!) answers. Then it came to little Keller, who stood next to Chris, who stands, at 6’3, a good two feet taller than this little girl. With eyes already tearing, she looked up at him and said:
“You play with me like my dad always used to play with me. But now my dad is dead, so I’m thankful for being like my dad.”
Let those words sink in.
Hit him (and us) like a ton of bricks. Heavy stuff. Real and honest and vulnerable, coming from a girl no older than eight or nine…
We are not heroes. The real heroes are the leaders of the home here, and the men and women of God they’re raising up in this place. We just have the privilege of joining in on what’s going on, even for a week. But to hear the innocence of this littler girl, the tears in her eyes, as she looked up at Chris, thanking him for loving her like her dad once loved her (and like her Heavenly Father loves her)…..It makes it all worth it.
Worth the money. Worth the time. And energy. And tears. Crossing the border and into the bloody mess that Juarez is…it’s all worth it. Because, even for a week, the love of Jesus Christ radiates through the relationships that develop. It’s incredible.
(2) After the kids had the opportunity to share with the group how/why they were thankful for us, Becky then asked us to extend our arms forward, palms held up and then invited the kids to come up and put their hands on our hands, their hands on our heads or shoulders and pray for us. A song was played…ALL the kids got up. Five year olds coming and holding on to my leg…pushing their way through the thicket of hands to get a hold of just one of my fingers or my precious 6th graders placing their hands on my head. Praying for me, and moving from Minnesotan to Minnesotan doing the same thing. INCREDIBLE!
I am 28-years-young, and I know I still would have an issue getting up with my peers praying for people. But to them, it’s an opportunity they WOULD NEVER pass by. (Someone tonight even said that they’d buy us computers or televisions or anything we wanted if they had the money, but instead they can and will give us prayers, because prayers last for an eternity! Incredible!!)
It is my hope and my prayer that we can bless the kids during our week here. It is my hope and prayer that we can love the kids like Christ loves them, and give a glimpse of what God’s Kingdom will look like!
This place never disappoints. Time and time again, my hopes and my prayers seem to be answered, and usually in a way where WE ARE blessed by the kids. Where we leave seeing the face of Christ and getting a glimpse into the Kindgom that’s coming.
Christ is coming. God will restore His Kindgom. He doesn’t need us to make that happen, but He nonetheless invites us to be a part of it. As was encouraged to the group this morning during devotions, let your life reflect Jesus Christ resurrected.
Thank you for praying for us. Thanks for all your love and support. Thanks for allowing your loved ones to be a part of this team and this trip.
Keep pressing on.