For one week last summer, our church did something radically different than anything we had ever done before. Rather than send our youth on a mission trip to another state or country, we joined together as a church body for an intensive week of serving locally in our own community.
To kick off our week, we held an evangelism conference for our entire church. Then, bright and early on Monday morning, more than 50 students and youth leaders hit the ground running for a rigorous week of ministry. In the mornings, they scattered to different homes in our area and held nine backyard Bible clubs for kids in those neighborhoods. From noon to 3:00, they gathered at an inner-city ministry called Arkansas Dream Center (http://ardreamcenter.tv/) and held a VBS there with the same curriculum used in the morning backyard Bible clubs. From 4:00 – 6:00 pm, the group moved to a local Boys & Girls Club and held a free basketball camp. In the evenings, they gathered at the church for dinner, provided by different care groups within our church. They would use this time to eat, share stories about the day, and prepare crafts and lessons for the next day. They then split up to go to their host homes to spend the night.
For me, this week was one of overwhelming gratitude. I was humbled and amazed once again at the power of a body serving together. I was privileged to host a Back Yard Bible Club at our home that week. A few people said thank you to me for this service, but let me assure you the blessing was mine. I wanted to share with you a few of the blessings of the week.
First, our family was blessed as we began to promote this event. We went from house to house and knocked on doors, introducing ourselves and telling them about the Backyard Bible Club. In a society where people often don’t know their neighbors, this event gave us a great excuse to broaden our knowledge of our neighborhood. We had neighbors without children loaning us a shade tent and staking our sign at the end of the road. As the week progressed, others would ask me how the Bible study was going. These have all been great opportunities to identify with Christ and to begin many new relationships.
The second blessing was the joy of getting to know the children. I cannot describe how thrilling it was to see kids running down the street, eager to come. As the week went on, they continued to come earlier and earlier. I had three different moms express how amazed they were their children were so excited about attending. Our attendance was remarkably consistent and moms were changing previous plans so their children could attend. What a great reminder to me of how the love of Christ draws people to Him! We did not have a flashy program or over-the-top games; we did have students loving these kids and sharing the love of Christ with them.
Third, as I mentioned earlier, seeing our church work together to reach our city for Christ was one of the greatest blessings. I cannot describe the joy of ministering together with the youth that came to my home. Somehow the distinction of youth and adult was lost as we were brothers and sisters in Christ working to share the Gospel together. No longer was the distinction in age important as we joined arms with the same mission. The sweetness of recalling two young men sitting on my step sharing Christ with my neighbor brings tears to my eyes.
I am thankful for our church body, for functioning so well. All of those who labored behind the scenes packing lunches, buying snacks, printing flyers, providing meals, housing students–all have my utmost appreciation. Many of them did not get to see firsthand the incredible impact of this week, but they were faithful to labor behind the scenes.
I am thankful for our amazing office ladies, who pulled off an incredible feat of administration and used their gifts so well.
I am thankful for our youth, for investing in the lives of others, for boldly standing for Christ, and for giving their all to serve Him. I am thankful they have the faith to believe the Word of God changes lives and they live out that faith. They are a joy to be around! May God reward their efforts.
I am thankful for our youth pastor and his wife, for their vision, and labor to adequately train our youth.
Most of all, I am thankful to the Lord! He is gracious to allow us to be some small part of His kingdom work. May we as a body continue to bring glory to Him as we serve Him together. To God be the glory!
Hannah Senn lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, with her husband Tim and their four daughters. She is a pastor’s wife and home-school mom. She is involved in ladies Bible study, care group ministry, and the Scripture memory program at The Bible Church of Little Rock. She enjoys serving in her church, reading, exercising, and spending time with her family.