Beloved and I eat a quick homemade sandwich; I change into some comfortable shoes and jeans.
He retires to the couch and the remote and I return to the car and drive off to afternoon kid’s church; it’s about a 25 or 30 minute drive to the northeast side of town. I’m distracted by the audio book so the time flies by. I turn off the book and say a prayer for the children before turning onto the property. I’m tired but yet, I know. I need to be here.
After sweeping up the dead roaches and the dried out orange peel and clean up the week old “craft papers” in the children’s rooms of the children’s church house, I think through what I will need for small group time later on. Then I go outside to play with some of the children who have come on their own. We’re waiting for the mostly reliable beat up old van to return with a load of happy children so we can begin.
Our fearless leader is inside, setting up the projector and queing up the power point. Two other volunteers are working on the snacks in the kitchen. This week it’s “cuties” oranges, peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches on white and some Oreo cookies and Kool Aid.
At 3:00 the children with their loud “in-your-face-ness” come clamoring in the small house and take their seats, still reading their cell phones (how do they afford a phone???). Silence your phones, Ladies, we hear, and put them away. Reluctantly they slip them into their back pocket and sigh. The little ones crawl into the laps of their big sisters/aunts/cousins/neighbors and stare at the Pastor.
The Fearless Leader Pastor asks one of the older youth to lead us in the Lord’s Prayer. Then the pastor asks some to read from the Bible – Exodus 1. “I wanna read!” one cries out. “Where is it???? What page is it on?” I turn toward the excited young person and hand her my Bible. “Right here,” I point and then say, “You read.”
And she does. She’s interested. “Who’s Moses?” she inquires in her excited loud voice. Pastor tells her. And all the others who are there, listening. And then. My heart stirs. The room has gone quiet as several are hearing for the first time in their lives about a man whom God used to move a nation out of slavery.
On another week, I witness 4 young teen ladies lead us all in the singing and the scripture reading and then I know why I am there Sunday afternoon after another. To witness transforming lives. To witness young people who are hearing those Bible stories that I have taken for granted for the very first time and some get it! And some are hearing about the God who made them is the same God who loves them and it’s the same God who sent His only Son to die for them because He loves them enough to keep them from going to hell.
That’s the payback. And all I can do is bow my head and say, thank you for allowing me to be a small part in the lives of these “unchurched” young people as they hear the gospel of grace for the very first time.
Amazing Grace…..how very sweet the sound!