Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Enmity. Bondage. Forgiveness. Freedom. Joy.

Here's a picture of a couple of kids I met in the early 1990's in Missouri, on a mission trip.

We tend to go on those trips and think of the big picture .. the VBS kids who show up ... the block parties we put on ... the Youth Choir Concerts we do for assembled masses. But sometimes the small things look pretty big when you look back on them.

Case in point: the kids in the picture. Just check their expressions; they were for real.

The backstory: the girl was one of two that the church we were working with had sent along to help with our backyard bible clubs. This was an area that'd been flooded, and FEMA had set up a trailer park. We put on the bible club as part of our mission activities.

The boy had ridden up on a bicycle and had struck up a conversation with me; I was the "Superintendent" of the club and, once I'd gotten the kids going, I didn't have anything to do.

Anyway, the kids was a fairly typical early teenager, and had somewhat of an attitude (less than the one I had at 20, which led my future father-in-law to threaten me with buckshot if I ever showed my face again....) about himself and his family, particularly with reference to his dad and his uncles. You didn't mess with the brothers, and everybody knew it. Or so he said, anyway.

When he saw the girls, he remarked that they were the stuck-ups, the snobs of the youth group. Looking back, it may have been some of the same "class resentment" that fueled my problems with my future father-in-law, except in reverse. After a day or two, as we'd finished discussing another daily dose of the brothers' reputation and the girls' (alleged) snobbery, I asked him what he thought God's opinion of those attitudes was.

Just the one simple question.

He looked at me for a long time, and finally said "I don't think He likes it." I told him I agreed with his thoughts on that. But then I asked him what I thought he ought to DO about it. He said "I think I have a lot of people to apologize to". I asked him if that included the girls, and he said yes. I then asked him when he thought he'd do that, and he said he might as well start right away. So I looked at the girls and said "Well.....?"

He said the only problem was they wouldn't talk to him (and they wouldn't). I said OK .. go tell them I'd like to talk to them, and you're just the messenger boy. So they came over and sat on the ground.

I then said to them "He's got something to say to you". At which point he said "Look ... I'm really sorry. I shouldn't have treated you the way I have been". Both girls looked at the ground and then at him, and they said "You know, we need to apologize, too ... I don't think we've ever really given you a chance".

I took the picture a few minutes later, of people set free from something that never should have happened to kids in a Church youth group, anyway.

Now I have no idea where that all led, but I can tell you that when we left that day .. the last day of Backyard Bible Club, they were friends and happy to be so. And the last time I saw the boy, he came skidding up to me on his bicycle .. one of those banana-type chopper deals .. and said "I'm up to 23 now, and have a few more to go".

And, with that, he rode off.

I stand amazed, both now and then, of how much God can do with the little things we do for Him. And this little episode is perhaps one of the more poignant ones in my memory. I thought it worth sharing, when I happened upon this picture, this morning.

Acts 4:20 " For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." (NIV)

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1 Comments:

At 6:00 PM, August 20, 2008, Blogger LindaSueBuhl said...

I like it very much,a story I can understand since I am a very late bloomer in the faith. It is part of the incredible plan of God we just start where we are without a big hooha about it. Start here and keep going - Good story Bob

 

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