“Let your light so shine”
That was the plan, and that’s what we tried to do! On February 13th eight of us young people trooped over to the high school in our area to help watch almost four hundred junior high kids as they had an all night-er of fun and games.
This is one of the descriptions from a D.A.R.E article.
“(The Students) will participate in a fun filled night of basketball, soccer, flag football, relay races, inflatable games, Jell-O eating contest and tug of wars, ending at 6:30 a.m., Sunday. The Lock-In has helped reinforce D.A.R.E. lessons on how to have fun and meet new friends in a drug and violence free setting.”
So that was the agenda, now here are some reports on the impact of the night, both on us, and on the kids.
Sam: “It was great just to invest in the lives of the kids. One guy and his buddy hung around for a while, I just gave them my attention, and they kept coming back. It was fun to be able to joke around with all the young people, and just to show them that someone cares.”
James: When our group first arrived, I wasn’t sure what to do, so I walked into the gym to meet the kids as they came in. I don’t think I was quite prepared for what happened there.
After the room was pretty full of kids, a group in the corner started a shoe fight. It was hilarious to watch, but knowing that it wasn’t right, I asked God for creativity in getting it stopped.
As I stood by watching, I figured there were two reasons why it wouldn’t be a good idea to just barge in and tell them to stop: first, I had no clue what the rules of the Lock-In were (as none had yet been given), and second, because I couldn’t think of anything better to replace it with. (If you tell a kid to stop doing something, it is a good idea to give him something better to do.)
At first, the shoe fight was all in fun and no one was getting hurt; it was more like a football game. However, soon, a shoe got stolen from a kid who didn’t want it to be stolen. Everyone thought it was so much fun because he was quite a bit more aggressive in his efforts to get it back. It started looking ugly. Still, I didn’t know what to do!
Suddenly, the shoe came flying over in my direction and landed right beside me. At the same moment I stooped down to pick it up, the boy from whom the shoe had been stolen also grabbed it. We both had our hands on it. Time stood still. Everyone got quite. All eyes were on me. What would I say? What would the guy, the one who is supposed to be in control, the one who under normal circumstances would condemn them for being rowdy; what would he do?
It was the prefect opportunity to say something profound; something that would change their lives. But what do I say? My mind went rushing, but when I began to speak, God spoke through me because I’m not sure where the thought came from to say what I said.
“Hey guys, I know you all are having fun, but do you know the only way to have true fun?” They continued their stares.
“The only way to have true fun,” I said, lowering my voice, “is to help others have fun. Then, and only then, do we really feel happy. Is this young man happy to have his shoe stolen?” They all agreed that he wasn’t.
“It’s fine to play around with your shoes, but just make sure that the person you steel the shoe from doesn’t mind. Otherwise, you could really hurt someone. Remember that guy over there?” I pointed to one of the leaders of the shoe-ball game, “he was having tons of fun even though his shoe was stolen. But then, what about this kid?” I nodded at one of the less energetic kids. “Someone tried stealing his shoe, but he had tied it so tight that it didn’t come off! If you don’t want your shoe stolen, tie it really tight, and for those of you who are playing, never steal one from anyone who doesn’t want to play along.”
I gave the shoe back to the offended kid. Everyone understood, they seemed content enough with my request, and went back to playing their shoe-ball. I didn’t see anything else negative happen. Praise the Lord! I don’t know where those words came from if they didn’t come from God. He is good at making profound statements.
Nathan: It was neat to see so many kids in one place and realize how much they need someone to praise them. So many times unfortunately they look for it in the wrong places and so it was neat to be able to find ways to praise different ones and see them glow in it.
Libby: As I walked around in the beginning I was just soaking it all in. Every little child that pushed and shoved brought such happiness to me. I couldn’t have been more blessed. I walked from room to room watching the other volunteers interact with the children.
I saw David in a hard core game of basketball with a mob of soon to be Michael Jordans; I watched James intentlycheer the kids on the bungee blowup; in the cafeteria was Sam and Tony pouring drinks for the parched little ones, then there was Laura surrounded as she entertained them. Each person was seizing the opportunity to be Jesus to those around them.
The love that was poured out was overwhelming. How amazing it was to be a part of those people serving uninhibited and unhindered. Watching Him pull people out of their comfort zone with out reserve was amazing.
There were so many vivid images that have stuck in my mind from that night. There can be nothing better than being pushed and pulled on by little hands. Nothing could surpass the eyes filled with wonder and excitement as they look into yours. But then again, not all the eyes were filled with light. There were eyes that held back the pain of silently fallen tears, the pain and hurts that were still fresh were displayed in their eyes.
So many opportunities to pour love onto them and speak words of life were surrounding me. A few that stand out are the little kids from Burr Ridge. These kids were tough; they held their own and stuck together. Two of the girls kept walking past me, they would look as I smiled at them and they would squeal and run away. It started being a game, one would walk past while the other poked and prodded me. They flipped my hair and would run like the dickens once the deed was done. Soon they gathered the rest of their crew to invade my bubble. I couldn’t walk past them without being assaulted by little fingers. No matter what they did I would laugh and joke with them.
Mackenzie came up to me as I was helping on the bungee run, she looked at me and shouted above the noise, “Why you so happy all the time?!” Her look demanded an answer, so I replied, “Well, it’s a secret.” The look of shock came on her; she couldn’t believe I didn’t straight up tell her! I continued, “You have to figure it out, then come back and tell me!” She rushed off after that, a few moments later she returned looking as if she had conquered. “I know what it is, you have joy in your heart,” she stated. “You are SO close, but there is something more,” I told her.
Later in the cafeteria she found me, this time she was smiling shyly. I asked her if she had figured it out yet, with another smile she said that she had. “You have God in you!” she said with a smile. I beamed at her and told Mackenzie she was exactly right on!