Wow! What a powerful close to our week of work in this community! We started the day at the House of Thorns again, to take a second shot at cleaning up the front yard. Again we clipped, cut, pulled, raked, gathered, bundled, and cleared…the place looks like a totally different house! We marveled that this choking growth of thorny vines, gnarled trees, and venomous insects took probably 7-10 years of neglect to cover this house, but when we all worked together it took about 7 hours to transform. It was a beautiful picture of the power of community. Whatever destruction is wrought in our lives by our actions or those of others, when the Christian community bands together, healing comes!
Since we all were just about the stickiest and sweatiest we’d ever been, we took some time to chill out at 121 with a little “movie night” action, watching Nacho Libre on the big screen in the theater. Or, that’s what I hear…I was sacked out on the couch in the Room of Games! I was definitely not alone; there was lots of napping going on!
After a delicious dinner served by the Townsend LifeGroup, we were back to Bear Creek Apartments for our last night of VBS ministry. And what a night it was. In the 102 degree weather (108 heat index), we weren’t sure if we’d have a lot of kids there. We loved it that again we had 40+ kiddos there playing with us! And again, all of our students were engaged, but as the saying goes, it’s the quiet ones you’ve got to watch. One of our most introverted students, Jocelyn, had an incredible night of ministry. She was able to personally share the gospel four times and led one child in a prayer to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior for the first time! Jocelyn’s language skills were used incredibly as she was able to connect with the Spanish-speaking children in ways that the rest of us couldn’t. She, her mother, and some friends will be returning to the complex after the mission trip to distribute Spanish-translation Bibles; we LOVE to see that commitment!
Now, our extroverts didn’t slouch, either. We distributed 25 Bibles to the kids at VBS, and those kids absolutely LOVED them!!! It was incredible to see children treasuring the Word of God as they proudly showed their parents, “LOOK mommy! They gave me a Bible! It’s MINE, all my own!” We had 25 Bibles, but one child was #26. She was downcast, sad that she wouldn’t get a Bible. Maddie’s heart went out to this child that she had invested in over the past few days, and she immediately handed over her own personal Bible to her. The child was floored and so very thankful for Maddie’s heartfelt donation. And this is in addition to the child that Maddie led to accept Jesus as Savior earlier that night! We prayed over him as a whole group at the end of VBS; his joy was overflowing about the decision he had made. Quiet or talkative, teenagers can change the world!
We had a LONG debrief and worship time in the evening, just because the students couldn’t wait to share everything they had learned and the lessons they want to bring home with them. Here’s some of what they said:
- “On Monday, we were so scared just to knock on doors. Today, no one was scared anymore!”
- Garrett: “I went outside my comfort zone this week, and now I know better what I can do to help people know and follow Jesus.”
- Malori: “I’m more hungry for God than I was before.”
- Neena: “I learned you have to pursue people for them to know that you care about them. Just one quick conversation won’t do it.”
We finished our time by looking at 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 and Paul’s view of the importance of love. When asked “what is love?” our students gave 3-4 really good but different definitions. We talked about that though everyone defines love differently, everyone wants love desperately. Though all the definitions we gave were good, none of them were the final definition. We said this together several times: “Love is a person, and His Name is Jesus.” Jesus is the final definition of Love, and no other person, place, trip, occupation, friendship, relationship, marriage, job, home, life, etc. will ever finally fulfill or satisfy us without Him. We closed with the challenge to remember that our service is powerless without Jesus, but eternally powerful with Him.
Parents, this was a GREAT week that blew away all of our students’ and leaders’ expectations. We are praying for the conversations that you will have, praying that you will be able to cement in the lessons learned for lasting life change! Thank you for your support!!! See you tomorrow!