We should have known we were going to have trouble with “R” when we went out visiting and passing out flyers for our summer day camps. The trailer park where he lives is full of run down, dilapidated, falling apart mobile homes and the kids who live there, through no fault of their own, look much the same. I had done a Bible Club there many years ago but had to stop because of no help and, really, no place to have it. Now that we have “The Bible Club Place” bus and a volunteer base, I thought that this fall would be a good time to begin a new Bible Club and our summer day camps would be a wonderful way to introduce us to the kids and the kids to us.
Hardly anyone drives through this trailer park unless they have to, so as soon as we pulled in R came outside to see who the strangers were. We knew many of the people from helping them at various times so as soon as he saw that we were friendly R was all over us and the vehicle that we came in. Literally! He was on the back bumper. He was on the front bumper. He was hanging in the open windows. He would have gotten on the hood and eventually onto the roof if we wouldn’t have put a stop to it.
In my many years of working with children I have learned that a child hanging all over you usually means they are craving for attention. However, I have also learned that when they become defiant and won’t follow your kind requests to get off and move away from the vehicle they are usually looking for all of the wrong attention.
That was R. We soon found out that for whatever reason, this 11 year old boy who lived with his grandmother was doing all that he could, good or bad, to seek some attention. Unfortunately it was almost always bad. If we told him to sit in a certain place, he would sit in another. If we told him to come here, he would go there. He got into arguments and fights often and had to be constantly talked to and constantly watched.
There was, however, one time of the day when he didn’t have to be watched. That was during Bible time. Oh, we had the usual scuffle when he wanted to sit in one place and someone else was sitting there and it would take him a bit to finally settle down, but, once the Bible lesson began, he was all ears and listened intently.
Day after day R faithfully came to day camp. Through the first week and into the second week. We had the constant struggles with him, but he was always attentive during Bible class. It was as if wheels were turning inside his head. As if he were thinking and contemplating. What was going on inside?
This summer’s lessons are about the life of Jesus and after each lesson was over, whether the story called for it or not, I gave the plan of salvation and invited any child that wanted to stay after my lesson to talk with me if they weren’t sure they were going to Heaven. Midway through last week, while the rest of the children were leaving to go for game time, R lingered behind. When everyone else was gone he came up to me and said that he didn’t know Jesus and wanted to know Him. I asked him if he could explain how to know for sure the he was saved and he gave a very clear plan of salvation. After he assured me that he did, indeed believe that he was a sinner and the only way to have a relationship with God was to believe that Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins and that he was trusting Jesus to be his Savior, I asked if he wanted to tell Jesus that. I told him that he could tell Jesus what he just told me and that Jesus would love hearing from him.
I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:7
After bowing our heads R prayed one of the most sincere prayers I think I have ever heard. He said something like this:
I know that I am a sinner and can’t get to Heaven on my own. I believe that you died on the cross for me to take away my sins. Please take away my sins so that I can go to Heaven.
And, Sir, please help me to stop being a jerk. Help me to stop being mean and getting mad and fighting with kids. Help me to obey my grandmother and others.
And, Sir, please help my mother to believe in you like I am and do what’s right after she get’s out of jail.
I often become emotional when a child trusts the Lord, but by the end of R’s prayer I was a basket case. All I could do was just hug him as I was sobbing.
Times aren’t going to be easy for R. Satan’s not going to let them be easy. The next day there were signs of the old R but there were also signs of a new R that God was beginning to form. Please pray for R in the days, weeks and months to come. Pray that he will continue to come to day camp and come to the Bible Clubs that we plan to start in the fall. Pray that he won’t resist the changes that God is making in his life. Pray also for R’s mom. I have no idea why she is in jail. For that matter, I didn’t even know she was in jail before hearing his prayer.
You may think that the title of this post refers to R but you would be wrong. The title refers to me. You see, it was my heart that was broken this past week. My heart was broken thinking of R and the kids that live in that trailer park and of the kids that live in the other low income sections of our town and county. My heart was broken when I thought of how many churches and Christians will go out of there way to reach those outside of their town but refuse to look at what is in their own back yard. My heart was broken thinking about the churches that do want to do something but don’t have the resources, volunteers, or funds to really help. My heart was broken thinking about the churches who have reached out, but aren’t able to really form the deep relationships that these people so sorely need. And, lest you think that I am only ranting about churches, my heart was broken thinking about ME, the one who calls himself a missionary to the poor in our area but who has neglected so many opportunities.
Please, as well as praying for R, pray for and with ME.
Please forgive me for not doing all that I can to reach those that you have called me to reach. There are so many times that I am so self-centered and think only of myself and the circumstances that I am in and I forget all that you have given me and I forget others who are much more needy physically but especially spiritually.
Help me schedule my time wisely and to get my act together financially. Help me to reach out to churches and individuals who may be able to support us and our ministry both financially and prayerfully. Help me to be faithful no matter what circumstances bring and to keep on serving you.
Thank you Lord for all that you have done and are going to do.