If you have ever helped out at a Club Hope event before and gone on the bus either for pick up or drop off you know that this is the most stressful time of the event. The roles for our bus monitors include crowd control for the children, giving them wristbands, and building relationships with them. It sounds nice and neat on paper, but those of you who have been there know better than to assume it is smooth sailing. Often the trickiest part can be making sure every child has a wristband so that we know which bus they are to get on for the return trip. But there is something that we do that is not easy by any means, yet really stands out to me as something special.
We write each child’s name on his or her wristband every Club Hope event we have. While this does help us remember their names, I believe it goes beyond just having a quick way to know a child’s name. It shows that they are more than just a headcount, more than another mouth to feed, more than a number. Every child is so unique and significant, and we want them to feel that way! They are constantly bombarded with the lie that they need to be a certain way to fit in or need to do certain things to be accepted, but that is the polar opposite of what God wants for them. He made them differently so that they would, in fact, be DIFFERENT. Even for the regular kids who come all the time, we are sure to write their names on their wristbands because they need to know that we love them for who they are. And more importantly, God loves them for who they are.
Why did this stick out to me? I mean, we have been putting names on their wristbands for a few years now, so why now? I believe that God is reminding me that maybe He isn’t looking for quantity right now. Maybe He is more concerned with the quality. The quality of treatment we give to those that we are currently impacting. The Bible says in Luke 16:10, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…” and right now we are entrusted with a few kids. Will we someday record hundreds of kids at our events? Perhaps. After all that is the big picture goal. But we must first be faithful in what we have now.
What about you? Are you being faithful with what you have? I am honored that God would entrust me with the task of reaching the children with His Good News! I wish that I could reach more. But when I do my best and we still have the same number, maybe God is teaching me that its more than a number. Kids will come for it is His will that children be saved (Matthew 18:14). It takes time to invest in and build relationships with these children, and it is worth every moment! It has been said, “they don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”. I believe this to be true. So whoever that is for you, whoever you are ministering to, make them more than a number. Invest in them even if it seems small, maybe God is preparing you for much bigger responsibilities.
April Club Hope saw a rise in the temperature for the first time in a few months, and along with that came a rise in the number of children who attended! We recorded 69 kids and I know that each and every one of this kiddos hear the Gospel presented to them clearly and accurately! What a day! But it did not just end with “hearing” for 3 specific children, for they moved from interest to action and made the decision to believe in Jesus during our counsel time. Praise the Lord!! We were also blessed to see 6 new faces on Saturday, and will consequently be delivering many donuts to them and those who brought them as an extra incentive to keep coming back and inviting their friends as well! Food is a wonderful motivator!
However, free food may be an incredible draw for people, children and adults alike, there is nothing that can match the power of the Word of God to keep them coming back all the time. I have heard it said, “If you win ‘em by the Book (Bible), you’ll keep ‘em by the Book”. And I believe this to be incredibly true, for the Word of God is alive and powerful (Hebrews 4:12). We have kids that are 14 or 15 that keep coming back over and over again despite our age range of 4-12. At first this was an issue due to the age discrepancy in our Mentor Hope groups, but now we are able to use them as helpers for our game time and small groups for the younger kids! They are transferring from being served to serving, from taking to giving, from being helped to helping, and it is awesome to see them help those younger kids who look up to them so much!
Several of these older boys now help me with game time and it is nice to work with each of them. I was so happy to be able to hand them their HFK t-shirts and give them ownership. They are part of the team and I am very proud of them all! We have known these guys for several years now, and although a few of them have been troublemakers in the past, to see them come up through the program and now still come back to help of their own will can only attest to the kind of irresistible God we serve! These young men are a testimony to how lives can and are being changed because of the hope of the Gospel.
Now, I feel it is my duty to share with God is doing in Hope For Kids, but more than that it is something that I long to do–to get the word out that our Savior is still very much at work and individual lives are being changed because God’s perfect will is that none of these little ones should perish (Matthew 18:14). With His permissive will He allows them and each one of us the choice to choose to believe in Him, so let us who are believers be diligent in making sure that as many as possible hear about what is freely offered to them by the blood of Jesus Christ. If you win ’em by the Book, you’ll keep ’em by the Book!
Despite again recording low numbers of attending children, Club Hope on March 18th was a tremendous success in building stronger relationships with the kids who did attend and teaching me a valuable lesson about the TRUST that is required for a successful team to function efficiently and effectively. God is the greatest teacher of all time and I regret that at times I am inclined to forget this fact and I think I can handle my growth better than He does. Yet He reminded me that according to Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure”, and so He knows exactly what I need in order to bring more glory to Himself.
With this in mind, I admit that I spent the majority of Club Hope wishing that there were more kids that came, which is totally out of my control, and getting down on myself for the lack of attendance. However, God used this to bring something very valuable to my attention. Trust. It is impossible to function as a part of a team without some level of trust, but how often do we fake it or just try to do everything ourselves? Well, God used this Club Hope to open my eyes to what teamwork truly looks like on a winning team that trusts each team member to perform their own tasks!
As most of you know I am the game leader for each Club Hope event, which means that if there is a problem with a certain kid, I am not always available to take time from managing the group of helpers and children to find out what is wrong with the child that caused the issue. I generally have to ask someone from the security team to remove them from the gym so that games can continue as smoothly as possible for the rest of the group who is not misbehaving. Yet this has always bothered me because I care about each child and I never want to dismiss their behavior without seeing if there is a stressor that is causing such behavior, possibly a home situation or even a bully at school or Club Hope. But again, that is not my particular role during the game time and I was forced to remove one certain young boy from game time due to his disruptive actions.
Sure enough a member of the security team came and took him away, and that was the last I heard of the matter–at least until after the event had ended. Afterwards while we were having a small meeting to recount the day, it was brought to my attention that that particular boy was going through a death in his family just recently and was really struggling with it. Please be praying for this boy, who has been a trouble child in the past, but that God will use this to draw this young boy to Himself!
I share this story to show you that even though he had to be sent out of game time and was no longer in my care, I had a capable team around me that gave him the care and the love that he so desperately needed. This showed me that I can truly trust the team God has placed around me, and also how thankful I am for each and every one of our volunteers! I can trust that when I need to have a child removed, they will go to someone who listens to them and genuinely wants their best. Every team member is needed and valuable (Ephesians 4:16) as we seek to bring glory to God by serving children!
Club Hope was a new experience for me as I got a glimpse into the spiritual and emotional drain that comes from the pressures of being the Bible teacher to the children at our event. I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit is the one who does all the work, for I am just the messenger of the Good News! Even at that point, without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, my teaching would be in vain. I am so thankful to be counted worthy to share the Gospel, especially with children.
Now, I am not the regular Bible teacher at Club Hope, that position rightfully belongs to my coworker, Cameron. However, since this particular month was about two weeks after shoulder surgery, we decided it was wise to give him a break and I took on his role. I can honestly say that I have yet another level of respect for him and the work that God has called him too. If you haven’t checked out his blog or considered supporting him financially then please do so here. He is a fellow soldier in Christ and it is our duty and honor to ensure that he is not lacking in anything.
I come away from February’s Club Hope amazed at how powerful the Word of God truly is. Children are encapsulated at the message of the story of our Savior dating back to about 2,000 years ago! Yet this story still captures their attention even after they have heard it over and over again. Truly it is written, “Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4), and that is proved over and over again as I see God work in these children’s lives!
This past Saturday marked the first Club Hope of 2017 and it was an honor to be a part of kicking off the new year serving these children of Springfield! We had about 60 kids attend and one little girl trusted Jesus as her Savior! When I asked her afterward if she had believed in Jesus, a huge smile covered her young face and she gave me an excited “Yes!”. It is incredible to see their faces light up when they have true HOPE, and there is nothing I would rather be doing with my life than bringing the hope of Gospel to children, specifically those who are underprivileged.
Personally, my favorite moment of this past Club Hope happened on the return bus trip. At this time usually all the kids are hyper from everything that has gone on that day, and generally have a snack to take on the bus. It has the potential to be the most stressful part of the Club Hope day due to the fact that many of the leaders and volunteers are worn out by now. However, there was a small blip of time where I got to hang out with three of the 8-9 yr old girls and the rest of the bus seemed to be under control. Normally I will be the one asking how they are or what their favorite part of the day was, but actually one of these little girls cared enough to ask me how I was doing. She could see that I was tired and she took it upon herself to see if I was okay. This blew me away.
That is why building relationships is so important! Because that shows me that they don’t see me as just another adult in their life, but as a friend. Someone who is there for them no matter what. Friends look out for each other and can tell when something isn’t right. I am proud to call this little girl my friend, but even more honored that she would think of me as her friend. She and her friends proceeded to ask me questions about food in Spanish, knowing full well that I couldn’t answer them, and all of us were laughing and having a great time! That is what it’s all about, breaking down barriers of ethnicity, language, age, and gender and building relationships that last. It doesn’t matter that we are different, what is important is that we all have the same need, hope. Hope that only Jesus can provide.
Check out the video of this event below…
Happy New Year! Due to a snowstorm on December 17th, our Club Hope event had to be moved to New Year’s Eve, with the hope that the children would still be around and available to attend regardless of the holiday. We were nervous in preparation for this event, but once again God did what He does best–make up for our weaknesses! We had 67 children attend Club Hope! Although this seems small compared to our last event in which we had 92 kids, the Lord knew what we could handle and 67 was perfect! Check out the video from this event to see the joy and hope that was spread as 2016 came to a close on a high note despite the challenges that we faced!
Entering the week leading up to Club Hope, sickness enveloped many of our volunteers and staff, leaving a very tired, recovering crew to the task of managing a Club Hope event. This was not easy as I was a part of that sickly crew, but the Lord’s grace was once again sufficient and hope was spread to kids that may not otherwise have any! One child even responded to the Gospel and believed in Jesus as a result of this day! Praise the Lord! For that alone makes the entire day worth all the pain that accompanied it. Luke 15:7 “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” On top of that even more relationships were built and those which were already established we strengthened!
I take joy in the fact that our Creator deems me worthy to suffer for Him, and I ask you, the reader, that you would not pray for less suffering (John 16:33, James 1:2-4), but rather for more fruit to be shown from that suffering. We all have troubles and things that just don’t go our way, but before you simply “take it on the chin” and try to muddle through it, I want to challenge you to ask God what He is trying to teach you from those circumstances. Then listen–communication is not possible if the receiver of the information is unavailable. Maybe He is allowing you to suffer because it will bring others to Him through your response to this suffering. If that is the case, I have yet a more difficult question for you. Is it worth it?
This past Club Hope event was filled with physical pain and was emotionally and spiritually draining. I can tell you in a heartbeat that it was worth it for me, but that is a very personal decision that each of us need to make on our own. My goal is to challenge you to answer this question for yourself, “am I willing to suffer for the benefit of others and the Kingdom of God?”. If your answer is truly “yes”, then together let us encourage each other to keep going and not quit, for our suffering is only for a season (Romans 8:18)! Let us become expendable for the mission that God has set before us!
Sitting in a biology class one afternoon, at 17 years old, I realized that God was calling me to be different. “What’s it all for?” I thought. Teachers and peers told me I needed a college degree in order to be successful in life, but God laid a challenge on my heart that I did not need to have a fancy title or education to be used of the Lord, but rather just a willingness to follow God. Two years later, at just nineteen years old, I put feet to my faith and set out to prove God for myself by working full time for Hope For Kids Ministries. Even though this meant giving up a promising basketball career in college, something I had worked my whole life for, I could not deny the call of God and chose to move away from everything I knew in New Hampshire to live in Massachusetts and let the Lord provide as He guides.
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