Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ministry In Wal-Mart's Parking Lot

On Friday, December 17th, 3:18 Ministries hosted a Christmas party for the children and staff of the San Carlos Youth Home. We go to the Youth Home on Fridays and provide a Bible story, crafts, snacks and games. Friday the 17th was a special time together. People all across the United States sent money, gift cards, fleece blankets, fleece hats and quilts so we could bless the children and staff with a wonderful Christmas memory.

Instead of being at the Youth Home, two staff members brought the children to our local Wal-Mart. The mother of four of the children, who was visiting them at the Youth Home, also came. Kara had met her at the parenting classes. Ron & Peggy Dew, 3:18 Ministries’ Board members, also joined us for the adventure. We spent an hour at Wal-Mart helping the children pick out a toy or two and then finding a piece of clothing they needed. It was so much fun to see the children receive a special gift and have a small need met. Next we invaded McDonalds for dinner. Happy Meals all around! Melissa Brown, 3:18 Ministries’ teammate, joined us there. The kids ate, laughed and played on the playground for awhile. To wrap up our evening, the children and staff came back to our house for hot chocolate and Christmas goodies. The kids also were able to pick out a hand tied fleece blanket and a fleece hat.

My highlight of the evening occurred as we were leaving Wal-Mart. During our time at Wal-Mart I helped the two older boys from the Youth Home get what they needed. We have known these two boys, ages 6 and 8, for a couple of years and have had a lot of fun spending time with them at the Youth Home. A couple weeks ago we were already at the Youth Home when the boys got home from school. When the 8 year old walked into the living room he said, “Finally I get to see you guys again!” I had a blast the evening of the Christmas party shopping with the boys. The younger boy needed shoes. It was quite an adventure trying on many different pairs to find just the right one. Two of my boys were helping him try to find the right pair. Shoes were flying everywhere. Several people walked by the shoe department and stared. It was quite the scene! We laughed a lot, but eventually found everything we needed.

As we were leaving Wal-Mart, Kara said, “My kids…get a hand.” Josiah, the 6 year old, looked up at me and held out his hand. I asked him if he wanted to hold my hand in the parking lot and he nodded his head yes. He grabbed my left hand and my 6 year old grabbed my right hand and the three of us walked out to the vehicles together.

As we were walking to the vehicles I realized this is what ministry is all about. For that moment, ministry was providing security and safety for a 6 year old in the scary world known as the Wal-Mart parking lot. It was simply walking alongside a young man who needed a hand to hold during this time of his life. Walking alongside, holding his hand and pointing him towards Jesus. I love my job!

I believe there are two truths about ministry from this encounter. Ministry can’t happen at an arm’s length. You have to be close to those to whom you are trying to minister. You have to be close both physically and emotionally. You have to be close and you have to build trust. Trust does not happen overnight…and especially with kids who find themselves at the Youth Home, or children of alcoholics, or children who have been abused. Trust takes some time as you continue to build relationships. Our goal from day one has been to walk alongside our Apache brothers and sisters and build a relationship with them so we have the right to share Jesus. We don’t have all the answers. We don’t have perfect solutions, but we know a man named Jesus who has changed our lives. And we are willing to walk hand-in-hand as we face this life together.


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