Ok. So in Part 1 I told y’all about what we did on our youth mission trip to Nashville. This trip was so freaking AMAZING. The kids (and Britt and I) were able to help minister to inner city children and to some of Nashville’s homeless community.
I think that a lot of times, it’s hard for kids.. even adults.. even me.. to understand what God has to do with anything. Sometimes it’s just really difficult to put together doing something good and what that good has to do with God. Anyone can go out and help someone and say that it has to do with them and not God, but I think that by going out and doing—those actions—show God sometimes way more than just words. This is a part of what I was hoping the kids would learn, and I think a few of them really understood it by the time the week was out.
Each day needs to begin and end with spending some quality time with God, so we started out our days with devotions and ended them with some worship time. Britt wanted to keep the focus on 2nd mile or going the extra mile. I wrote out 4. One for each day. (If you would like a copy of these devotions, put a comment below with an email contact or you can contact me directly if we personally know each other.) The kids brought their bible or used their phone and had journals to write their thoughts in.
During our worship time, we sang some songs and told our “happy and crappy” or “popsicle and poopsicle” moments. (That is, one good thing and one bad thing from our day.) Britt would lead a short lesson, too. On Monday night, Britt added the question, “Where did you see God today?” Obviously, we were given the obvious answers. But to listen to some of the kids’ answers change over the week was amazing. We even had some who said there was nothing at all bad about their day aside from maybe the heat.
One night made the kids really uncomfortable. Britt wanted to wash everyone’s feet. He did such a great job at explaining what this had to do with serving. Some of them even decided to wash his feet and the feet of others in our group.
Another night, we did “Pass the Light”. It’s a game or exercise where one person holds a flashlight and chooses someone to pass it to. The way you pass the light is to give words of affirmation or encouragement to the person you choose. Then, that person chooses another person, etc. The kids really got into this and began to open up about the things they loved about each other. Some were a bit uncomfortable about it, but it ended up in a huge giggle fest. I was told I had become a father figure by one of our guys. He meant parental figure, but father figure works, too.
Going in, I think a lot of them thought it would just be a fun and easy trip. In all reality, it was. Reilly, one of our freshmen, kept saying how weird it was that she kept referring to what we were doing as “fun”. She felt that it was weird to call helping the homeless “fun”. I didn’t think it was weird at all. Doing God’s work is almost always fun. To paraphrase B.B. (resident and employee of the Nashville Rescue Mission) “Talking to you helps me out, too.” Helping others helps us and that’s really great because it’s hard to complain about how bad you think your life is when you are constantly trying to lift up those who have far less than what’s packed in your bag for just a few days.
During the week in Nashville, one lady in particular stuck out to me. On Wednesday, while helping hand out water, crackers, and t-shirts at our table outside the library in downtown Nashville, Ms. Deborah and Mr. Roger came up. I remembered them from The Bridge on Tuesday night. They were some of the homeless we helped load up with groceries and were some of the most talkative and nicest people I met. I talked to them a bit while they were picking out t-shirts, and then they moved on. A few minutes later, I saw Ms. Deborah sitting alone in the shade, so I walked over to her and sat with her. I didn’t ask her much about her story, just asked where they lived and about the book she had next to her. After a few minutes of conversation, she told me that she and Roger attend Mission 615’s services every Saturday. I asked if there was anything I could pray about for her. She told me she had a broken ankle and had fractured her other one and that neither of them are completely healed. That’s all she said, though I know there was more. I’m pretty sure I won’t forget Ms. Deborah because of one thing she said to me. “I have heard so many people complain about life and say that they wish that God would just kill them. That they just want to die. It makes me so mad. We don’t get to complain about our life. We don’t get to ask God to kill us. God’s job isn’t to kill us. He loves us. I know He has a plan for me and that great things are coming, I just don’t know when. Things will get better one for me. I know my blessings are coming, I just don’t know when.” This is coming from a woman who has next to nothing. She is homeless. Has maybe one bag of belongings to last her forever. I am pretty sure I had more packed in my bag for 4 days with more clothes waiting for me at home than this woman has– but not once did she complain to me. She graciously and gratefully uses the resources that are available to her and keeps positive. Honestly, I just wanted to bring her home with me. I don’t know how she came to be homeless or the other struggles she has faced, but man.. I couldn’t even repeat what she told me when we were having our evening service that night. I think that maybe that was because I know so many people who have struggled with not wanting to live another day. (I’ve even been close to that point a few times.) Many of them have so many people who love them and have the world at their fingertips, but here was this lady who has no one and next to nothing who just absolutely loves our Lord, can’t wait for “tomorrows” and is so thankful when she’s given another day. I was given a word by Sammy, one of the interns at Mission 615. We had been sitting and talking with one of our youth. When we were done and after we prayed, he said that he felt like I was unable to answer the “where did you see God today” question because I was overwhelmed by the fact I was finally getting some fulfillment of things I had been searching for. He said that he felt called to remind me of this verse: Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (NIV). He was totally right, I think. For a long time, I’ve been searching for something. I have, in the past year, gotten on the right path to finding what I was looking for. It should go without saying that I was searching for God…. And I’ve begun to find Him. In more ways than one. Every day. In even the most broken and unusual places.
Watching these kids talking to people and praying with people was just…. I honestly can’t even describe the feeling. It’s one that is beyond happiness. Like, so happy it makes you want to cry, smile, and laugh all at the same time. Maybe even dance a little. I’m gonna brag on a few of the kids now because I am just so proud of them!
Glenn: Holy cow.. Glenn.. This kid is who I want to be when I grow up. I don’t know if I have met a kid who is so hungry for God’s word and so willing to help. Y’all.. we could hardly get him to stop helping this week. Britt told me that while we were at the library, his group leader was praying for a man and as soon as she said “Amen”, Glenn just picked up and started praying. He was one of the first to jump in and start helping while at The Bridge. He made friends with the other volunteers working near him, too. He is a machine. The week after we were in Nashville, we had a middle school mission. We stayed in Madison and Glenn was one of the high school kids who helped lead. We did “Pass the Light” with them. He passed the light to a group of boys and told them that their friendship was so special and that as long as they remain friends who search for God together, they can do ANYTHING. A high school kid not only knows and realizes this, but he actually shared it out loud with others. I think it’s just awesome.
Reilly: This chick right here…. She’s had a rough year, but Nashville TOTALLY rocked her world. She is totally changed. She came to Nashville with a dislocated shoulder and while we were there, she fell and scraped her leg up really badly, fell flat on her face and got a nosebleed, and went out of our raft head first. Not once did she complain. Not once did any of that slow her down. She moved mattresses on her back, by herself, with a dislocated shoulder. She wasn’t going to just sit out and watch everyone else help. She had to participate no matter the cost. She didn’t want to stop helping either. She’s a force. We were lucky enough to have her as one of our high school leaders for the middle school mission, too.
Drei: Good ole Drei. He’s like a daughter to me, y’all. Drei is fairly new to the “church thing.” He is at the church almost every single Wednesday and Sunday night. He is another one of the most God hungry kids I’ve met so far. On the way to Nashville, he was sitting in his seat and not talking to anyone. Why? He was reading his Bible. He was a huge help working on projects during the week. The best thing about Drei and the Nashville trip? HE GOT SAVED!! The next best thing? He gave his testimony to the middle school kids during their mission week. (I cried as soon as he started talking.) This kid is going to go far!
Mackenzi: I didn’t know Mackenzi very well before the Nashville trip. The morning we left, she was at my table during Sunday school and just totally blew my mind with the responses she came up with. She was just able to pop out some of the most profound things in a matter of seconds. It was almost like she didn’t think of them at all. Like they were just already there in her head. She continued to amaze me that way during the week. Mackenzi has an understanding that is so awesome for a kid her age.
I wish I could brag on them all, but I won’t. I do, however, have to brag about our resident DJ Gingy G.
Sam: Good heavens…. Sam. He kept us laughing every single time we got on the bus. Not 1 minute passed without music playing. From the time he stepped on the bus, to the time he stepped off…. There was music. And dancing. Oh the dancing. Or twerking, as I guess it would be called. He was up and moving from the time we left the parking-lot in Madison, GA, ‘til we got to our destination in Madison, TN.
(Originally posted on my old blog on July 14, 2014)