Three finals down and two to go. In a matter of 24 hours I have completed 60% of my finals. That is a lot of information to cram in a matter of one day. In three days my grandma will be here, I will be packing, and then I will be on my way back home to leave APU behind for the next 8 months of my life. This week (and it’s only Tuesday) has been so hard because there are so many things on my mind.
Tonight is my last Tuesday night with my girls. This has been the most challenging group of girls that I have worked with since I started doing mal group ministry about 6 years ago. My first group was fun, they were so active and so open to everything. They were very interactive and never awkward and I never had to draw things out of them. I now see that some of it may have been superficial, but such is the nature of an eighth grade girl sometimes. I still very much cherish the relationships that I have with them. Since my first year at cornerstone I have grown so much, as a person and as a leader. My second group of girls was drastically different. They were predominantly home-schooled and very opinionated; or the opposite, very quiet. They were occasionally out of it and spastic. They were more challenging than the first because I had to push them. I was learning right along with them and shared with them things that I was learning too. They asked so many question, which compelled me to push them as I answered. But this year, this year is the hardest. The majority of my group doesn’t care about Jesus in the slightest. I have no idea why they keep coming or what their intentions are in doing so. There are a few in the group of those girls who are AMAZING and have SO much potential it isn’t even funny. There is also the other end of the dichotomy with the wonderfully insightful, obedient, well mannered girls who are so ready to learn. They are some of the best girls I’ve met. I love both ends of the spectrum. I have so much hope for the girls who don’t care, but they frustrate me sometimes. They hurt my heart in how indifferent they are, in how disrespectful in all aspects of life they are. I am sad that I don’t get to journey with them all the way through their 8th grade year. I know that there is so much room for growth and so much possibility. Its a matter of pursuit and persistence, a matter of God’s soft voice calling them home. I so hope to come home and see that they are different, in whatever context that may be. I am heartbroken that I don’t get to watch them grow anymore, or help them in doing so. I love those girls so much and I’m so so terribly devastated to be leaving them. The hard part is knowing that they don’t know that I am leaving and that this is my last Tuesday. I know that I will be back to say goodbye one more time in january, but it won’t be the same. I thought about it on Sunday, about what I would say to them, what to leave with them as a last thought before I bow out.
I came to the conclusion that I needed to talk about love. I don’t know what Daniel is talking about tonight. I don’t know if they’ll get tired because it’s more preaching, but I need them to know. Despite all of the things that we talk about in how to evangelize to our friends and to tell them about Jesus, it is so much more than that. It is about loving those who we are around. It is about the fact that we love God and that He loves people. Regardless of who they are or how much we may or may not like them, we need to love them, to serve them. If we love people out of nowhere, they will notice that something is different. If don’t neglect people, if we don’t yell at people when they make us mad, if we smile at people, if we respect people, if we are nice to people who don’t deserve nicety. We are here to show Jesus to the world. Jesus was love, and therefore we should reflect that in every aspect of our being. And that is our evangelism. It is not in our talk about Jesus, because if we randomly throw Bible verses at people or use “Christianese” they are not going to listen, because after all, what is the Bible to them except a bunch of words in a really old book that doesn’t matter to them? Love is a universal language and everyone understands it, everyone responds to it, everyone needs it. While talking about Jesus and being a Christian has its time and place, it is through love that we might evoke those opportunities.
So these are the thoughts (at least the ones that are being voiced and contemplated at this present moment) that I leave my girls with as I travel across the world to the Holy Land. It is that mindset in which I enter a foreign land, with foreign people, with foreign views. It is that way in which I wish to live my life. I hope that I succeed. It is my hope and my prayer that it is Jesus that can be seen and not me.