Most people think our busiest church day is Sunday. Wrongo! Wednesdays begin with the sun coming up on 6:30 am Men’s Breakfast and ends with activities going long after it tucks itself to bed on the western horizon. The days are fast paced and always full of unexpected curves. For the fleet of faithful volunteers our after-school program, Extreme Kids Club, is a whirlwind of thrills and chills. An inadvertent slip of the tongue nick-named it “Screaming Kids Club”, which has a ring of truth to it. By the time 5:15 pm hits, we all look frazzled, disheveled and exhausted. With most anything there are days when the natives are restless and we can predict a weather change better than any meteorologist with his 3D Doppler Radar. It doesn’t take much convincing that these little darlings would tie us up and set us on fire if given the chance. Those days make us wonder ‘why are we doing this?’ But, God is faithful in supplying enough hope to keep our batteries charged. Along the road comes things that make us giggle, tear up, and have us in awe.
Here are a few great moments that are too precious not to share. When working with the kiddos on the Big 10, I asked them what commandments they knew. One, whose household must have been debating a new local ordinance, piped up “You can’t hunt at the lake!” Moses would have gotten a chuckle out of his 40 year desert experience included the Barber County State Lake. During music one little gal, who I predict will be ‘the policeman to the world’ waved me over and reported that “Billy is not singing!” I told her that he looked kind of tired and it was ok. She put a hand on her hip, index finger-waving and informed me that ‘ well, that’s not going to get him saved!” I assured her that God would handle Billy.
Storytime is a whole book of experiences in itself. A boy with a wild imagination, raised his hand when I asked if there was ever a time you knew something would end in disaster, but God turned it around for good. He began a story full of wide-eyed expressions: “One day I had my recorder in my book bag and I was riding my bike down a really big hill really, really fast. Suddenly at the bottom of the hill I saw a giant snake! I stopped really really fast! I pulled out my recorder AND my music and started playing. That snake fell right to sleep.” (he flops his head to one side with eyes closed and tongue sticking out) He leaves a pause to allow us all to be amazed, then clasps his hands and looks at the ceiling. “I said “Thank you, God!” Honestly I do not even remember how I responded to this one. What a great gift of storytelling. It will fun to see what God does with that! Who can forget when we wrapped one boy in toilet paper, hid him behind the stage curtains, and had all the kids yell, “Lazarus, come forth!” ? Our Lazarus took on more of roll an Abbott and Costello Meets the Mummy personality. The kids will never forget it, even if he scared the bejabbers out of some of younger ones. After the Crucifixion story one puffed his chest out and informed us that ‘if I had been Jesus, I would have kicked his feet out of those nails and killed all those Roman soldiers.” The storyteller that day about passed out! (Proof that sometimes we all miss the point and need lots of help understanding.)
We get to experience those light bulb moments when they ‘get it’ that God is real and working their lives. Sometimes, we even get the supreme privilege of praying with them for Jesus to come into their hearts. Their prayers are passionate and their worship has to thrill God down to his holy toes. Yes, we witness future saints on their journey to the plans God has for them.
Recently a 14-year-old boy passed away in our community, rattling everyone. One of our 1st graders was at the family’s house the evening after the tragedy. In a quiet moment, he said with passion and exuberance, “Won’t Tristan just be amazed when he sees Jesus!’ His perfectly timed input was desperately needed. Christ’s ministry was passed on through the wisdom a brown-eyed walking testimony, who’s mohawk hasn’t quite grown out yet.
“Glorified babysitting” some have commented. So what? We don’t care about the ‘why’. We solely care that those precious ones are there. We celebrate new babies at their houses, losses of grandparents, occasionally a parent, and much-loved pets, as well as the winning of spelling bees and concern over soldiers and prisoners as they make cards. Just like us they have worries and insecurities in which they are wrestling. It just comes out differently.
When they almost take our knees out from under us in the grocery store line as they hug us, we realize they aren’t just little kids; they have become our friends. Fellow brothers and sisters in Christ-just in small packages. Although frazzled, disheveled and exhausted, we are the ones blessed beyond belief.
To this end I labor, struggling with all of His energy, which so powerfully works within me. Colossians 1:29.
Dedicated with much love to the Extreme Kids Club volunteers at the Medicine Lodge United Methodist Church.