Last Sunday we interviewed a mom from rural Illinois who shared how she is implementing Heroic Life Discipleship through an after-school Bible Club in her small-town community. Our interview is continued below.
Aubrey: Are you involved with the children in other ways besides Bible Club?
K.D.: A few weeks after we began Bible Club, God showed us that we needed to take time to invest in these kids outside of Bible Club, and we began a weekly Street Hockey team for our little community. A local pastor helps officiate the game at an outdoor basketball court in our town. It’s the perfect location, and the kids love it! We get together for hockey each week after school for one and a half hours and provide gloves, hats, snacks, and hugs. This has been a great way to get to know the kids and build relationships with them. At Christmas, we spent an afternoon baking and decorating cookies with several kids and sent home plates of cookies for them to give away to their neighbors. We’re praying about implementing other ideas as well, like a monthly Saturday family movie night at a local church.
Aubrey: Those are great ideas. I really like the fact that interacting with the kids outside of “lesson time” has been such a priority for your team. I think investing in their everyday lives shows a genuine care that children recognize. What are some highlights from time you’ve spent with the kids?
K.D.: Oh, we have fallen in love with these kids! God has given us His heart for them, and He has provided a way to reach out to them. This last week one of the moms dropped off her two boys and said, “Thank you so much for doing this; this Bible Club has been so good for my son! He looks forward to coming each week, and he has changed so much in the last few months since this has started. Six months ago we were going to have him tested for autism, and now he’s a different kid. Don’t stop doing this … we haven’t had anything like this here. Even when I was a kid there was nothing like this here.” This conversation with the mother was timely; a couple days earlier, God had reminded me (in my discouragement), “Don’t grow weary with My work; at just the right time, there will be a harvest.”
Aubrey: Have you experienced any fruit?
K.D.: Most of these kids have never heard these stories before; it’s exciting to tell God’s stories to people who have no idea what’s coming next! One week, after hearing the story of Jesus forcing demons to leave a young boy, there was a pause, and one of the boys said, “Wow!” As we plant God’s stories in their hearts, we know that the Holy Spirit can and will speak through the stories, even when we’re not around. The boy who was going to be tested for autism has been asking questions about what it means to be a Christian; last week he was willing to talk to Jesus in front of the other children during prayer and afterward told me that he wanted to have his own church someday! Another girl, after seeing the Gospel presented using a white glove and a black glove to represent righteousness and sin, prayed, “Please don’t let my heart be black like that glove.”
Aubrey: That has to be so encouraging and rewarding to hear. What are things you’ve learned through leading Bible Club?
K.D.: You don’t have to travel far to be a missionary. Listen well. Listen to the story, listen to the Holy Spirit, listen to the children. Nik Ripken, missions veteran of 25 years, was right when he wrote,
So many people … desperately needed more than the help that we were prepared to give. What they wanted even more, however, was for someone, anyone, even a stranger who was still trying to learn their language, to sit for a while, or just stand with them, and let them share their stories. I perhaps should have known this, but I was amazed to see the power of human presence. In my pride, I thought that I knew exactly what these people needed, but I never would have thought to put ‘conversation’ or ‘human connection’ on my list. Once again, I was profoundly humbled.
We once heard someone say, “If you feed them, they will come.” We decided we will feed them as many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as they want, as long as we can have conversations about Jesus!
Aubrey: Thanks again for sharing. It’s so refreshing to hear about the work Jesus is doing through you and your team. We’re certainly praying for you and the kids in your Bible Club and are looking forward to even greater things God will be doing in the lives of these children.
Makes me think of two quotes from Francis Chan: “Making disciples isn’t about gathering pupils to listen to your teaching. The real focus is not on teaching people at all–the focus is on loving them.” “True discipleship involves deep relationships. Jesus didn’t simply lead a weekly Bible study. He lived life with His disciples and taught through actions as well as words.”