AND MY MIND WANDERS
As we loaded up the van and began heading down to Croc, Mexico to visit the community Youthfront is involved with, we didn’t know what to expect. It had been two years since our last visit and this trip was to be much different. We weren’t going down there to build houses, we weren’t going down there to help run the after school program, we were there to do camp for the children of Croc.
The whole operation was pretty impressive. We had to translate all of the curriculum for the services, figure out how to pull off different large group games in Spanish, and plan out all sorts of logistical things. In the end, it all came together. It was a huge blessing for all of us who went to see the Youthfront Mexico staff in their element. They really have something special going on in Croc, Mexico and it was great to be a part of that community again. It’s obvious that God’s hand is on that place.
There were plenty of things that I loved about this particular trip—the kids of Croc, the staff interaction, the food—but there was one specific event that had a profound impact on me. Each night, everyone gathered for a time of worship and learning. On this particular night we were talking about God’s story—starting from Creation and going through Christ’s expected return. We talked about how God created us in his image, and not only that, but how God also gave us the ability to create. After having talked about this some we distributed clay to all the kids and told them to sculpt something while remembering that God not only created them in his image but also gave them the incredible ability to be creative. At first I was a skeptic of the whole thing. I thought to myself how this kind of thing may work in Mexico, but would never work in the US. Immediately after having thought this I realized just how cynical that statement was. As I looked around I noticed all of these students sculpting incredible looking things. There were ninja turtles, cobras, and manger scenes. These kids were all engaged and interacting with the story just presented to them, and there I was critiquing whether or not it was even working!
Something dawned on me shortly after thinking these things. We are all called to have a child-like faith. This would include things like having total dependence on our Father, incredible faith in the unseen, and a pure, consuming joy. What a tall order! With all of the pain, loss, lies and insults that get hurled at us it is incredibly difficult just to maintain these traits all the way through the public school system, let alone continuing to be joyful for the remaining 40+ years of your life.
As we get older, we begin to shut down certain parts of ourselves because it is not looked upon favorably by our peers, society, or family. These individual encounters add up over time and can bring us to the point of paralysis. If someone gets made fun of repeatedly for stumbling over their words, that person will naturally want to shut down and stop talking altogether out of fear they may get hurt again. All of us have these types of fears in us, and that fear can bottle up the child-like joy we are all called to share.
As I looked around and saw all these students molding and creating masterful pieces of art, it all seemed to make sense to me. We need to break free from these fears that can be so crippling in order to live out that child-like faith, and what better way to battle against the cynicism and “cool” by doing something as simple as molding clay. The students at camp were doing just that. They were reluctant at first, but by the end they were all showing off their creations to one another, laughing and smiling the whole way through.
By the end of the night I was thoroughly convinced that this was the way to go. For every harsh word a person has endured, there needs to be someone else ready to try and bring out that joy again. In a world full of so much pain and suffering, we really need to be those beacons of life, love, hope, and joy. God gives us that whenever we abide in him...so let’s dance more, laugh more, jump rope more, hula hoop more, sing more and play with clay more. When we are able to grasp the beautiful simplicity of a child-like faith, this world will be a more beautiful place—and what better way to usher in Jesus’ new kingdom than by living completely for him now through loving people out of their fears and into Jesus’ arms!