I was talking to my Associate Pastor, A.J., from my church back in Boone, NC and he was trying to plan his sermon for this past Sunday. I asked him what scripture he was using and he told me it was the scripture where Jesus calls the disciples and tells them they will now be fishers of men and women. A.J. and I think similarly about various things and this scripture seemed to be one such time. I read the scripture a few times and each time it just made me think about when I have answered Jesus when he has called me. It made me think about becoming a missionary. I denied that call towards mission work or ministry in general for a long time, but when it was finally time to make that decision it was rather easy. When I was asked to be a US-2, it never really crossed my mind to say no. I knew that the call was enough at that time and I was excited to "drop my nets" and head on the road with Jesus. He led me to this great place called Cunningham. I am forever thankful for Jesus for calling me here.
But I think there is so much more to the story and we get caught up on this one scripture and emphasize it so often. Once we have dropped our nets, started down that road with Jesus, things start to get hard. We never really knew what to full expect. People might try to tell you how things will be, but you never know how YOU will react. I think the disciples went through a "honeymoon" period with Jesus, where they were just so excited to be following this amazing man, and learning from him each day. But then after a few months things started to get a little harder. Jesus started to break even more of societies rules and teach about breaking all barriers and walls down. The disciples were only human and they had a hard time with this, they questioned Jesus and at times were afraid to be apart of it all. But somehow they pushed through and they knew Jesus was more than they could even comprehend. They kept following him, but it was harder each day. They witnessed miracles, but they still had moments of doubt.
I feel like I can completely relate to the disciples. Especially right now in my ministry at Cunningham. My honeymoon period here was wonderful, I thanked Jesus daily for blessing me with the words to speak to the kids, for the activities to plan, and for their wonderful participation and being good for me. I was just floating along, there were hard days, but things were good. Following that call had proved to not be so hard.
Then I left for a 2 week vacation to NC and upon my return, things were a little different. I have different groups of kids to work with each day, and they are testing my limits daily. Kids that were so sweet and nice to me before Christmas are now, have lots of moments of aggression towards their peers and towards me, they don't listen to me, and I am having a hard time finding activities that they will do. Things have been hard. It has been emotionally draining at times. In the midst of it all I have been struggling with other things on a personal level that I will share one day. Some involve whether I am being called to ministry past this 2 years. Even on the days I come home feeling defeated and not equipped for this job, I still know I will follow Jesus wherever he leads me. But I feel like a disciple, tired from walking that road with Jesus. I feel weary and I just need him to lift me up and let me continue on this road.
So I thank Jesus for calling me, I praise him for his unconditional love for me, I thank him for giving me the strength to go on each day and share his love with these kids. I thank Jesus for the opportunity to cast my net on these kids and scoop them up into the love of Jesus, because I know that other people threw them back after they caught them in their nets. These kids have been through so much, more than I will ever be able to grasp. These are the kids Jesus wants me to be with, and I will love them unconditionally no matter how hard it might be.
Jesus asked me to be a fishermen for kids:)
Jesus always taught his disciples & he taught me this week too. I taught a lesson on Jesus preaching in his hometown and how they bullied him and tried to kill him. So our lesson focused on bullying. I was so excited for the lesson and it went ok for the most part in my first group but at the end of the group 2 of my kids started bullying each other intensely and then others joined in. I asked them to remember what we had just talked about but they didn't want to hear it right then. I left the group feeling like I didn't get through to them.
I came back later in the day to drop some stuff off and I was filled with joy and hope. The staff, Kim, she told me that after I left she asked the boys if they felt like they needed to talk more about the lesson today. They all agreed that they did. They said what they needed to say to each other & they talked through their problems. They cried, staff & kids, over how they had all treated each other. They apologized. Their shared their love for each other. They felt like a family. When I saw the boys that afternoon, they were all smiles, getting along and excited to go sledding outside together.
You never know what God will teach you, you never know what seeds you will sow, and you never know what will touch these kids. I praise God for this!