Every Wednesday they trooped in after school, 12 to 20-some kids—hungry, sweaty, pulsing with energy. They devoured cookies and gulped down drinks. They were the elementary children of my neighborhood, and they joined my two boys for Good News Club, an after-school Bible club.
Last week I spoke at a women’s meeting at a church, and a woman introduced herself as one of those Good News Club kids. She said I had led her to the Lord back in the 1970s, and today she is active in the children’s ministry of her church. I could have cried. Sometimes we wonder if what we do or say makes a difference to anyone, and then we find that it does. In a big way.
In time a neighbor provided the snack for our Good News Club and a friend told the missionary story and led singing. Ministry is always a team effort. We listened to the children’s memorized verses, played games and told them stories of Jesus healing, teaching, loving. We tried to love the kids in the same way He loved.
At first we met in our living room. But as our group grew, we decided it was time to build what in those days we called a “rec” room in the basement, “rec” being short for recreation. I can still see the gold/brown patterned rug and hear the slightly off-key piano, a piece from my childhood home so large we had to cut out the bottom two steps to drop it onto the basement floor. My living room furniture was forever grateful when we moved club to the rec room.
Those were the days when teachers placed figures with flocking on the back onto flannel-board backgrounds as they told the Bible story. Sometimes I’d let one of the kids place the figures. They liked that. Ministry need not be high tech to be effective.
Week after week the kids came, from fall to spring, just like they went to school. What drew them? The other kids? The fun of competing to learn Bible verses and play games? The cookies and Kool Aid? I don’t know. But I do know we all long for love and community, and that is what we offered the kids—a place to hang out that included open arms and open hearts. Oh, I sometimes groused at them if they were unruly. But for the most part we got along just fine. And we were all a little richer for our time together.
I learned how to manage children, tell Bible stories and lead children to Christ. They learned to listen, to obey and to sit still for 40 minutes or so. It was a win-win situation, a microcosm of the church that I hope they all belong to all these years later.
A few years ago a former high school student came to me at a church supper and thanked me for encouraging her to join the yearbook staff when I served as advisor. She was a good student, and of course, I wanted her on my staff. I had no idea that she was just too shy to volunteer.
Our words count. They may make a huge difference in someone’s life. And faithful ministry—be in in Sunday school, choir, public school or through a myriad of other opportunities—gets the job done. God can very well get the job done without us, but he invites us to get in the game. He invites us to join with His people to tell and teach and share the good news that Christ has come. Let’s not turn down any invitations to play. Whose life might you touch with an encouraging word?
Have a blessed day!
"So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up." Galatians 6:9
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