There have been lots of things vying for my time and energy in the last few months, but none maybe greater (for lots of reasons) than a program called in.Light.in that I am involved with. For those of you who don't know, in.Light.in is a ministry set up for the children of Portsmouth (that's the town just down the street from Picard where we live). This ministry was started by a spouse who had a background in church ministry and has been in existence for nearly 6 years now! Every Friday we go to the local park and sing kids praise songs, learn a Bible memory verse (which the kids are REALLY good at actually!), make a craft, play games (they LOVE soccer), and we feed them a snack supper. All of this happens in the course of about 2 hours. The group we've been working with this semester has literally blown up! Last semester we averaged around 18-20, this semester we average around 30-34! Such a blessing!
But just as much as it is a blessing, those of us volunteering have had to do quite a bit of "championing for our cause" this semester. There have been a lot of accusations that we "aren't being transparent" (meaning we haven't been forthcoming with the fact that we are a Christian based ministry), and just as many claims that what we are doing is "forcing kids to learn about God so that they can play with us and get a snack". This is not the place for me to voice my upset about those claims, but it IS the place for me to explain at least why it is that I personally am involved with this ministry. You see, these children NEED love. They need compassion. They need a good nutritious meal. They need positive influences in their lives. When it comes to loving kids, as a Christian and a lover of God, the best way I know how to love a child is to teach him or her about the Love that comes from their Heavenly Father. Because lets be honest, I am only there with them for a few hours once a week. And even then, I'm only here on this island for a short period of time. It's kind of like the "teach them to fish" mentality. If I pour out all this love and compassion on these beautiful kids and then leave them in 18 months, what have I really accomplished? A few meals, some fun games, a great memory? While all those things are good, what happens when that child who was receiving my unconditional love gets beat by his father next August when I'm no longer here? What happens when one of my sweet girls is left to fend for herself when her mother walks out the door and never returns? What happens when something tragic happens in that community, and we aren't there to hold them and snuggle them and tell them they are loved? Yes, we hope and pray that this ministry continues LONG after we have left this island. But the truth is, there WILL come a time in all of these kids' lives where the ministry of in.Light.in will just be a memory. What we want to leave them with is a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus! We want them to tap into that "fountain that never runs dry". We want them to know and love a Father that promises that even when life is hard (even impossible), even when they lose people they love (either by death OR relocation), even when they feel like nobody cares for them...our God is ALWAYS there! And the closer they get to Him, the more they feel His love, the less they have to feel hopeless. Our God is a Hope Spring! He'll turn your weeping into singing, your mourning into dancing. There's a banquet awaiting them. A feast in a mansion! Living water that will quench ANY thirst and will never run dry. And THAT, my friends, is why I show up on Fridays. That's why I get dirty, and sweaty, and give them piggy back rides, and let them sit in my lap, and smile at them, and tell them I LOVE YOU! In my mind, there is no controversy. We are loving these kids who need it so desperately. There is no apologizing for what we do! Just see for yourself...there is Love, and Light, and GOOD being spread here...
This little boy, Calvin, has really bad bottle rot (meaning his baby teeth are basically black from eating/drinking too many sugary things and not getting enough calcium). We brought this to the attention of several people, and the staff of Ross has agreed to sponsor dentist visits and hopefully a remedy to this problem for him!
Singing "Waves of Mercy". This is the "every breath I take I breath in You" part...
Laps are never big enough for everyone who wants to sit in them. I usually have at least one or two kids sitting in my lap and my arm around another kid. My nurturing nature is ALWAYS fed at in.Light.in!
"Everywhere I look, I see Your face..."
"I hate you satan, SHOO away from me!"
"Na na na na-na na na!"
Learning our memory verse of the week!
This is the other part of the "shoo the devil" song. This is "I love you Jesus, deep down in my heart...talk about deep, deep, deep down. Deep down in my heart!"
"So let your Light so shine among men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven." Matthew 5:16