So its been an incredibly busy week and a very rewarding one, especially where the youth group is concerned.
Last Friday night we did our Youth Group church lock-in. We had the kids get to the church at 6pm Friday night and told the parents to pick them up around 10 AM Saturday morning. We had 12 kids there total, and despite the heat, they were insistent on playing lots of different variations of tag out in the church yard. We brought them in and had snacks and soda out for them and then had a good lesson time on idols (both theoretical and practical) and prayer. We sent them out to have a half hour of individual quiet prayer time. After that we had good group discussion about what place in our priority listing we have God.
Once that discussion ended we played Sardines and other indoor games tell 3 Am when they got the itch to go back outside and play some more tag games. We came in around 430 and things started to wind down. We have a foosball table and air hockey table and a really cheap broken down kids pool table and they just entertained themselves for awhile. Around 530 some kids started to get ready to go to sleep. The girls moved over to the house with Hope and the Boys stayed with me. Some of the Boys laid down in their sleeping bag and the rest of us started a game of monopoly.
By the time the game ended, just about everyone else had gone to sleep or was going to sleep and it was right around 630 or 7. Hope and I were going to make breakfast for the kids in the morning, ut they were all asleep at that point. They were so tired that there was no way that we were going to wake them up.
All the parents got there right around 10 AM or so, and we went around waking up these walking zombies. The kids had a ton of fun and so did Hope and I. We were able to get closer to the kids and learn more about them.
Hope and I always say that quality time comes from quantity time. You cant force quality, you can just be there when it happens. Thats what has been happening lately with these kids. A few weeks ago, they did the worship for the service on Sunday and you could really start to see them come out of their shell. It took 6 months for them to be willing to do it once and now they are excited to do it more often. Our plan is for them to play every month when I preach.
So after the Lock-in, we had Youth group Sunday night. One of the ideas Hope and I had for the morning of the lock in was to do a prayer walk in the neighborhood of the church. There are about 15 houses or so within a ½ mile or so radius. Since the kids were sleeping, we did it Sunday night instead.
Our goal was two-fold. First was to show the kids how to do this and give them the support, confidence and know how. It really is quite simple and you can do it in a variety of involvement levels.
First was just walking the street, stopping at a house and saying a quick prayer for them. Ext was to talk to someone if they were outside and ask them if they had any thing specific they would like us to pray about. Third was going up to the door and letting people know we were praying and asking what they would like prayer for. The kids did great! And, there are a number of non-church going families in the neighborhood and they were all open to being prayed for as well. We even got to meet the family moving in just that day up the hill, that we probably wouldnt have met yet otherwise.
The second goal of this was to just let the neighborhood know that we were doing this and we got wonderful responses. One of the last houses we went to is the home of a wonderful couple in the church. He is a Vietnam Vet and has a whole host of medical problem because of his service and she is a wonderful saint who spends her life taking care of him. They are high school sweethearts and you can see the love in their eyes when they look at each other. With his health issues, many times visiting there is standing in the doorway talking to her with a few “Hi’s” and words of encouragement shouted in to him. This night we were able to pray for her and then she asked us in to lay hands on him and pray for him.
It was extremely obvious the effect this had on the kids. They were amazed at the power of prayer and while some of them knew this couple, it was an experience for them to see someone open up there home, being both vulnerable with the kids as well as enormously grateful.
After we got home that night, we saw the wife had made a facebook post about the visit. She posted this…
There is no limit to the blessings that are coming our way.
Just answered a knock on our door to find the youth group from the church. They wanted us to know we were constantly in our prayers.
First they all gathered around me outside to pray for us…then I invited them (all 16 of them) to come in. They gathered around Gary’s hospital bed, joined hands and prayed for him. What a blessing…I will never forget the power of that moment and the impact it appeared to have on Gary. Thank you Jesus, for your continued blessings and caring for us.
Well, needless to say that got us a little choked up, and then a got a message on facebook as well. I didnt immediately recognize the name, but she said this:
You may not know me but you have touched me in ways that words can not express… See I am (Their) daughter & tonight you took the youth group over to visit my parents and pray with them… You don’t know how much this means to them…
Simple hellos and anyone that can stop by to check on them is welcome – as they don’t get out of the house much anymore with how sick Gary is…
Thank you so much!
We shared these with the kids last night and it was a perfect oppurtunity to both praise God how he works through the actions you would never even suspect, but also to reinforce to the kids, how powerful prayer is. This reaction happened with (at that time) no prayers that the kids prayed, being answered. It was their presence, their love, their willingness to step up and let them know that they were praying for this house and their willingness to share.
God is the only who knows which prayers will be answered and which wont. But he tells us to pray about everything and to pray always. By doing this, the kids in our youth group were able to have an enormous emotional effect and be an encouragement on this family struggling with health issues. They were able to show the neighborhood that people love them and people are praying for them.
The positive effect was had bith on the individuals and households that they prayed for but on the youth themselves as well. These kids are amazing. They are going to grow up and do amazing things. Please keep them in your prayers and Hope and I as well, that we dont screw them up. Thanks all!
1 Timothy 4:12