Like a Child

One of the ministries we participated in was at a homeless shelter where the majority of our team helped serve dinner to the residents. We had too many girls to work in the kitchen so I got to walk around and talk with some of the people eating there. The evening started with my hair French braided but was quickly taken down for some little girls to play with as they talked to me and giggled and smiled. A few of the moms were not happy with their daughters so they conveyed this in various ways. Some of them yelled and said words I wouldn’t repeat, others grabbed their child and smacked them, a few asked their child to come and some obeyed, and a few moms were okay with what was happening. I am fifteen and am in no place to tell a mother how to parent and discipline their child, but I was torn to pieces by what I heard and saw. All I wanted was to share in some laughter and smiles with some little girls and they were suddenly sad and in tears at the way they were treated.

Later on I walked over to sit down at a table where Jordan was sitting and talking to a teenage girl and what appeared to be three younger siblings. Jordan introduced us and it turned out we will both be sophomores this next school year. I inquired about her favorite thing to do and found out she loves running and talking with friends. She has two older siblings and two younger siblings, making being the middle child another common aspect of our lives. Before too long, I was called to switch and work in the kitchen. That night during debrief Jordan, Chantell, and I shared about her and it turns out we had discussed different aspects of her life. Jordan and Chantell found out that the infant sitting at the table was actually hers, her mother is handicapped due to domestic abuse with which the abuser is now in jail, and another man is also behind bars for the event leading to her child. This girl is turning fifteen tomorrow (which is how old I am), she doesn’t know anybody where she is living, and probably doesn’t know anybody loves her or cares about her. I do have to say that she seemed to be an incredibly happy person and she showed great joy. I still cried thinking about her childhood compared to mine and how she probably wouldn’t be celebrating her birthday. I feel like everybody should feel loved and cared about, especially on their birthday. Bethany and I decided to make a cake and give her cards and flowers.

From chicago.myadventures.org

Today we went to the homeless shelter to deliver the cake, flowers, and cards. We weren’t sure how she would receive such a large group of girls gathered in the corner of their cafeteria but she was very accepting. She came over with her baby, we sang to her, and she got to blow out her candles and make a wish. She took pictures with us and was very appreciative. What she did next surprised us. We cut the cake and she asked that we give all the kids some cake. We aren’t just talking about her siblings and a few others, there was a whole long table full of kids who were taking a break from vacation bible school and eating lunch. She let them all get a piece first, and then she took the remaining portion back to the room she is staying in. Her unselfishness was so surprising given how little she has to herself, but she shared anyways.

From chicago.myadventures.org

I feel like there was a common theme with the experiences that affected me most. They all involved children or teenagers. This past week the verse that talked about having childlike faith stuck out in my mind. Mark 10:15 says, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it”. Children not only accept Christ with arms wide open, they tend to dive head first into his love. They don’t care who is watching, they are fearless to share about Christ and his love! They show constant joy and long for attention and someone who will love them no matter the circumstance. During training we talked about choosing joy, but what do we do when someone is harmed in the processes of showing joy? I’ve been thinking about how to handle this but I feel like God is trying to show me that you must be persistent in choosing joy. Even when we have no reason to choose joy at the time, it will be worth it in the end.

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