I want so much of God that there is no room for me. I want to see what God sees, feel what He really feels, be what He would have me be in this desperate hour. As I have prayed for our community, God has impressed on my heart that we as Christians must get out of our comfort zone...the self-serving church of air-conditioning and padded pews...and go to where the people are...meeting them at their need.
Henry Blackaby says, The world comes to know God when they see God's nature expressed through His activity. When God starts to work, He accomplishes something that only He can do. When God does that, both God's people and the world come to know Him in ways they have never known Him before. That is why God gives God-sized assignments to His people. The reason much of the world is not being attracted to Christ and His church is that God's people lack the faith to attempt those things that God can only do. If you and your church are not responding to God and attempting things that only He can accomplish, then you are not exercising faith. "Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Hebrews 11:6) If people in your community are not responding to the gospel like you see in the New Testament, one possible reason is that they are not seeing God in what you are doing as a church."
Back in the spring I asked God what He wanted me to do this summer. The idea for a BACKYARD BIBLE CLUB out in the community came to my mind. I shared the idea with a few other Christian friends...all of us from different denominations... but one in Christ...a part of the body. They began to pray with me.
After hearing about the Federal Gov't Summer Feeding Program, I called the Food Services Coordinator for the local BOE. I figured this would be a good thing to offer lunch the children that attended the program. She indicated that the deadline for getting on the list was that very day. She asked me where I would need the food delivered and I told her I would get back with her in 30 minutes. I literally got in my car and prayed. I drove to a particular apartment and talked with the manger there. She was a Christian, herself and was excited about the idea of the BACKYARD BIBLE CLUB. Then I called another apartment manager and she, too was accepting of the concept. I called the Food Services Coordinator back with the two addresses and agreed to the guidelines of serving lunch at 11:00 am each day at BACKYARD BIBLE CLUB.
Now it was time to pray more, plan, and find helpers. I called on my praying friends and they were eager to step up to the task. My sister was also willing to help along with two other dedicated teens. Ultimately, we had a team of eight volunteers. We met, prayed, and studied the materials: Lifeway OUTRIGGER ISLAND. We learned the songs, planned craft ideas, and made a shopping list. We had donations from two Christian women and my SS class to help purchase materials, snacks, and juice.
On Monday, June 2 ---- Thursday, June 5 we led the first week of BACKYARD BIBLE CLUB. There was an average of 15 children daily. Many parents stayed for the session to listen to the Bible Story and songs, even helping out with crafts. We prayed for the children daily, sharing the ABC's of becoming a Christian (ADMIT BELIEVE CONFESS)
One day a guardian of one of the children who has been diagnosed with cancer asked for prayer. She said she was encouraged that we took the time to speak to her and pray for her. She has since been attending one of the churches and taking the young child she is raising along with her.
On Monday June 9 ---- Thursday June 12 we held the second week of BACKYARD BIBLE CLUB. We averaged 25 children daily. Again many parents stayed to listen to the Bible Story, etc. They were genuinely appreciative of our efforts and inquisitive about why we were doing this. We were able to share the love, joy and hope of Jesus Christ with many of them.
One of the most rewarding aspects of this was seeing the teen volunteers that participated engage in the activities with the children. Their enthusiasm was amazing. Most mornings they beat me to the apt. complexes, willing to unpack my SUV filled with tables, crafts, snacks, misc. equipment, and assist in cleaning up afterwards. They were eager to tell Bible Stories, direct games, crafts, lead singing, and even pray with the children, too.
Because of an upcoming mission abroad, we were only able to do two weeks of BYBC this summer. However, we are planning to return to these apt. complexes in the near future to lead a children's Bible Study group on Saturday mornings.
There is no government program alone that can solve the true needs of the people. It is the church's responsibility to reach out. I believe one of the biggest problems with Christians in our community is that they are hiding their light within the church walls. See Luke 11:33 "No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it is hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in may see the light." There are churches all across our town that meet a couple of times a week behind closed doors in beautiful buildings and the local community has NO IDEA what the church believes! If we are to truly be HIS disciples, we will shine for Jesus and draw others to HIM.The world wants to see God at work through His people. But unless we hear and obey, the world will not experience Him. They will only see religion and be turned away.
1 Corinthians 13:1 says "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love I have become a clanging cymbal."