Saturday, July 28, 2007
Whew. It has been a long, but good week. This is the first time that we’ve been away from all of our children for any length of time. It is also the first time that we have ever been responsible for 14 children of other people for any length of time. Our week was split between Nashville and a trip to the mountains in east Tennessee.
We spent the first night at Climb Nashville. This place was great! The people are extremely friendly (thanks Lance!) and patient. If you are looking for something great to do with a bunch of energetic young people, this is the place. They let you climb until 2 a.m. and do what you want after that. Some of our youth chose sleep and others chose to stay up and slide on the floor in their sleeping bags. They have a video projector, so you can watch movies. They even have showers! We definitely plan to go back. Want to find out how much someone trusts you? Offer to belay for them.
Day two was spent at Longhunter State Park in Mt. Juliet. We had hoped to canoe, but they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. We’ll try that some other time. We did stay and walk around the lake. Some of the youth stayed in the shade and hung out with a group of senior citizens whose retirement home had taken them fishing. It was a very sweet site to see. We prayed together before we all ate lunch under a big covered patio. We had sandwiches and they had KFC. Some of our kids asked why didn’t we have KFC. Our response was, “You aren’t in a nursing home!” They giggled.
We began one of our “Get to know ya” sessions on Tuesday. These are where a person sits in the middle of a circle of other youth and tells their life story. I think they were the highlight of the week. I can’t convey to you how amazing some of the autobiographies are. Suffice it to say that I am continued to be humbled how the Lord has made me a part of His plan to minister to them. No one should have to endure some of the things that some of these children have. The harvest is plenty!
We went to see an evangelist named Ken Freeman on Tuesday evening. We had made plans to see him several weeks before. We knew that he was going to be at the church all week. We did not know that he was appearing as part of a youth conference at Two Rivers Baptist Church! What wonderful providence! We joined the “blue” team upon our arrival. It seems that they got points for bringing guests. We gave them 17 guests and took them from last to first place for the night. Also, one of our youth won a “Simon Says” game that gave them many points. They didn’t know that we had a “ringer”. This young boy plays “Simon Says” with many of the smaller children at church. He is the Tiger Woods of “Simon Says”.
Ken Freeman’s testimony mirrored those of some of our youth. His message was true and refreshingly blunt. He preached some about how “salvation” is more than saying a prayer. That you must “TRUST” in Jesus. Trust and obey…. Two of our rather hardened and cynical youth professed for the first time that they too wanted to trust in Christ that night. Several others recognized that they needed to trust and obey more completely.
The next day, we drove to our cabin in the mountains. 5 miles from the cabin, one of the vans broke down. We were able to make two trips with the remaining van to get all of the youth to the cabin. We were so blessed that it broke down so close to the cabin. The cabin was amazing. Many of the kids had never been anywhere that nice. It had a beautiful view, too. The people at Good Sam arranged a tow for the bad van at no charge! We have a Good Sam membership, but did not expect that it would cover a vehicle that wasn’t even ours! We fully recommend Good Sam, even to those who don’t have an RV. They also contacted a local repair shop and made sure that they could fix the vehicle in a reasonable amount of time. $500 and several hours later, we were on the way to Dollywood. Dollywood was fun, but terribly expensive. $2.50 for a bottle of water. Over $40 per person to get in….. Whew! I was surprised that they didn’t have pay toilets. Shhh…. Let’s not give them any ideas!
We gave each of the youth a laminated copy of the Sermon on the Mount. They are made to be suspended from a shower head. That way, they can read some of God’s word every day. We had a hot tub in the cabin, which we let the boys and girls enjoy separately. We found two groups reading the sermon and praying together. How amazing. It was self-led prayer and study.
God gave us a theme-song this week, too. “Jesus Paid It All” ( a contemporary version of the hymn from 1865!) was instantly loved and remembered by our entire youth group. We just happened to have it on a DVD that we brought along to ClimbNashville on Monday night. Then on Tuesday night, the church service we attended had a band that closed the evening with that song. When we returned to our hotel room, folks were humming it. On Wednesday evening, we ended our group time (just before bed) by watching the DVD recording of the song. At bedtime, our wanna-be gangster rapper asked to take the DVD up to his room to watch it before he fell asleep. Thursday night the girls got to take it to their room. Friday as we were checking out of the cabin, it was whistled by many, and sang by a few. Scott has produced a video with snapshots of the week that he will play for the church, also set to this song. Oddly enough, there was a second, less-spiritual song learned by the entire group, too. “Fleamarket Montgomery” by Sammy Stephens was an instant hit. It is a commercial for the Montgomery, Alabama fleamarket. One of the young ladies in attendance recorded it for her ring-tone on her phone. Watch it here, you’ll be glad you did!
Scott became tired of saying “no” to everyone, so he appointed one young lady to do it for him. Whenever someone said, “Can we ____?”, Scott pointed at her and she would respond, “Absolutely not!” This was broken out several times, usually involving the purchase of candy, co-ed swimming, the pursuit of strange women, and rap music. They took it in stride and by the end of the week understood why (we think).
The things that they find acceptable in music, television, & relationships are shocking. I think this week was, for some of them, the first time that anyone has ever questioned why they listen to the things they do, or use the language that they use. They were very responsive to that. Some left our week convicted about the stuff they watch and listen to. We shared a lot of the Word this week, and it does convict and illuminate. Our rapper that I mentioned earlier came downstairs and sat on the couch with his arms crossed and a grumpy look on his face. He said he was just going to sit there where there was no sinning on the tv. It was like he came to the realization that the stuff he was seeing on BET really was sin. I don’t think he even questioned it before then. On his way home, he commented to Scott that he wouldn’t be able to watch anything on tv without seeing the sin in it.
It was an amazing week. There is still much work to do, but of the kids who came with us, I think some of them are ready to sow some seeds among their peers in their community.
Here’s a challenge to you:
How far in your community do you have to look to find 14 kids who need someone to love them? 14 kids who have never had unconditional or Godly love? 14 kids who need to hear the word “No” every now and then? Someone to tell them that they’re pretty or smart. Someone to hug them over and over again. Someone to tell them that what their parents, or their uncle, or their cousin did is not their fault. Someone to share the good news of Christ with them, that Jesus paid it ALL. If you can’t find them in your community, there is plenty of need where we are. We’d love to have your help.