Well, it's been awhile. Life has been so crazy busy I have not sat down to write. Honestly, I have had SO much to write about but have simply not had the time to write because our life is so full! So, what made me finally sit down and write a paragraph or two? I'll tell you. His name is Joshua.
My husband is the pastor of a small church and as the youngest woman in the church I do most of the children's ministries. This is incredibly filling and also, incredibly draining. Some days, I want to set the house on fire and run through the woods screaming like a mad woman. I do! Sunday night, however, reminded me why it is such an honor and a gift it is to be in the position that God has put me in.
My house is on the main road in our small town (we have one small convenience mart and a garage, and that is all), everyone walks by it. My house is next door to the church and we have a big piece of land with a paved pavilion and a little swing set. My backyard has become the neighbourhoods gathering place for children. As soon as I release my children in the backyard the kids come running.
Last night for the last twenty minutes of church I took the kids outside with some sidewalk chalk. Across the street there is house where a half dozen children live (I still haven't quite figured out the family situation) and they were out playing. These kids had attended our VBS and a few of them come over for the Wednesday night club and I was hoping if we were outside they would join us.
After a few minutes one of them came scampering over. After we finished our church club I let the kids play in my backyard. Two more of the kids came over while I watered the gardens. Our hose hook up sprays quite a bit and they started running under it very happy to get a little wet. I thought about telling them not to get wet but then I decided to do something much more fun and turned the hose on them!
They immediately began running around and squealing with glee! It was a lot of fun and after a few minutes one of the boys came up to me and started to chat a little. This boy, his name is Joshua, he came to VBS and was one of my "problem" boys. He had trouble listening, he was loud, he didn't like to participate, and sometimes he would make fun of others. He was difficult and the one day he didn't come I was ashamed to be a teensy bit relieved.
I asked him if he started school the next day and he replied, no, because he wasn't sure what school he was supposed to go to. His father moved around a lot and he lived with his mom sometimes and no one was knew which school to put him in. I prayed for wisdom as he stood beside me, dripping wet and looking vulnerable. I took a deep breath and told him my mom had been the same way, always moving, we maybe stayed six months in one place.
He looked up at me with surprise. I guess our family doesn't look like the sort that would have that kind of background. I held my breath and tried to look casual. He then told me that his dad had gotten custody of him while his mom was in jail and he just wanted to be with his mom because his dad never kept his promises or took care of him and one time he took him into the woods to party where everyone was drunk and getting high. A lady came and took him home and he never wanted to be with his dad again. His mom was hopeful that she could get custody since his dad had taken him to that party.
My heart broke for that boy. I told him, I too had been exposed to situations like that through my childhood, I understood how rotten it was to have to go through that. I knew. He gave me a look that I will never forget, a look of wonder that someone really understood and cared, a look that made me remember my purpose, to love these children with the love of my Heavenly Father.
He ran off after that to play but at the end of the night he said he would come back. I told him anytime my kids were out he could come right over. He ran off with a smile and a wave. I waved until he couldn't see me anymore.
He is eleven years old and is forced to raise himself. I know the feeling well. My heart is burdened for what his life is, the hard lessons he has to learn. His behavior at VBS now makes sense. I can hardly think of anything else as I go through my day and I pray earnestly for that boy and that he will come back. I am burdened but also, incredibly awed. I get to be the one to reach out to this boy, God chose me as His instrument, my hands are the ones that get to show this boy love, and I am humbled.
I hated the way I had to grow up. I was ashamed. I did not want anyone to know I was that kid. The one with the broken home, with the parent who didn't care. The one whose clothes didn't fit right, who was dirty, hungry, and didn't go to school. I was determined when I grew up no one would ever know and I could forget. pretend it didn't happen, but God had other plans.
Yes, good Christian people told me, God will use this, He is preparing you but I didn't want that, I just wanted a loving home with parents I could trust. However, through my adult life God has been teaching me a lesson. I have no right to be ashamed, to hide what I went through because that does not define me. I am the daughter of the King, I am loved, redeemed, restored. What I went through does not make a lesser person, and yes, God was prepareing me for His work.
A person can minister to people even if they have never been through what that person has been through, I don't want to diminish anyones ministry or say you can't minister if your life was fairly "easy". However, I have found my background to open doors with people, especially children. No one guesses when they look at me and my family that I had a bad childhood. They are flabbergasted, they can't believe I'm not in jail or have had multiple boyfriends etc, they can't believe I'm smiling. I point Jesus. It is not me it is Him. He is why I can smile, He is why I am not broken, He is my everything.
I thank and praise God, that when I was a young teen He brought a beautiful Christian family into my life that would not let me become the bitter, angry, hateful girl I was on the road to be. I praise God that this family showed me what real love was, what a real family looked like, how I could be happy no matter what happened around me, how I didn't have to let it scar my character. Thank God for my adopted family, thank God for Christian people willing to reach out. Thank you God.
Now, I am in a position to reach out to children that are just like me. Rescue me their eyes are begging, Love me, make me safe! and my heart responds, I understand! Let me show you that you have a Father Who is waiting to hold you and never let you go.
Thank God for it! Praise God he has gifted me with this incredible duty. Yes, some days I just want to be left alone. I want to sleep and do stuff I want to do but then I look out my window and see myself in the faces of my young neighbours. Lost, hungry, waiting for someone to show them love and I am reminded my real purpose in life. "You are the light if the world" "Go into all the world and preach the gospel" "Love your neighbor" "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
My burden, my blessing. These small, forgotten, unwanted children. I must show them the verse that reached me when I thought no one saw or cared. "For my father and my mother have forsaken me,but the Lord will take me in." Psalm 27:10. I must show them the love of the Father who will never let them go. My Father, My God, My Saviour.
Pray for my Joshua, pray for the Joshua's around you. Thank God for the blessing of being His hands and His light in this world of darkness! It can be wearying but we must pray to never grow tired, we must pray for renewed strength and passion and continue because this world will not last forever and it is our duty to spread The Light while we can. "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."