If we knew everything was going to be alright tomorrow, would we take that adventurous leap more confidently today? If we knew the impact our steadfast love and faithfulness would have on those we invested in, would we be more giving, more loving, more courageous or more selfless?
These are the questions I find myself asking as I witness life changing moments with the high school students I interact with. I often get to see the power of the Holy Spirit transforming a student through the adventures of One21. As I capture these moments in my heart, I often wonder, “What mom, dad, caregiver, mentor, or coach sowed into this moment without ever knowing it would become reality? Who was there, months or years ago, in the midst of the chaos, so this moment of love could be captured?”
These were my thoughts as I walked into the kitchen of Bethany Children’s Home on the outskirts of Monterrey, Mexico. Inside, seated at kitchen chairs around a long rectangular table are caregivers at the home – men and women who spend each day surrounded by the chaos of trauma, abandonment, and adolescence. I was asked to share a word of encouragement with them. I had prayed and listened for the right words to share. All I heard was, tell them what you have seen. So I did. And I want to tell you too. Because in the midst of chaos we need to know that steadfast love and faithfulness produce a future fruit that, while it cannot be seen today, will be ripe tomorrow.
I see Kevin, a young Hope Program student, whose summer adventures led him to the United States for a few months. Kevin admits the past few years have been a struggle, as he’s wrestled with defensiveness and self-absorption. Something took hold of Kevin that spring, though. God had whispered something to him, and while he remained unsettled, he was beginning to embrace the life Jesus had called him to. As part of his trip to the US, he was invited to the One21 Summer Experience, a summer camp for high school students. It was the first time students from the Hope Program in Mexico would join the One21 community in the US. In the weeks leading up to the camp, Kevin had reconnected with American friends who he had met while they were serving on Back2Back trips in Monterrey.
One of those connections was a high school girl who was interested in the One21 camp. She had reservations about attending because she struggled to make friends. Kevin decided he could help. So looking across the table at her he said, “Don’t worry, I love making friends. I’ll teach you how.” For the next hour he coached and encouraged her until she felt confident in her ability to start conversations with others. Then off to camp they went.
In that week, Kevin didn’t question how God was speaking to him, or what he wanted from Him. Instead, he spent his week making sure his friend built new relationships on her own. On Tuesday I approached Kevin and asked where his friend was. He responded, “She made some new friends and is hanging out with them.” I could see the confidence in his smile as he realized how big that moment was. Kevin was finding significant value in serving others.
I walked away wondering how blown away Kevin’s caregivers from four years ago would be at his selflessness that week. I wondered how affirming it would be to his house parents and his sponsors to know the depth of their investment. Kevin isn’t just breaking the cycle of poverty in his life anymore. He is choosing to reach out to impact others. His influence didn’t stop there. Later that summer, a younger camper from another week of camp sought Kevin out simply to tell him that he had changed her life that week. His demeanor, selfless spirit, and encouraging attitude were so evident, that they had overflowed into the lives around him.
The tears of the men and women seated at the kitchen table of Bethany Children’s Home illustrated how deeply they needed to hear a story of steadfast love. Kevin’s story reminded them that some of us spend our lives planting seeds, weeding, gardening, watering young plants, while others harvest the fruit of mature trees.
Now, more than ever, I’m thankful for caregivers, mentors, child sponsors, volunteers, and friends who nurture in spite of the chaos. Be encouraged, what we sow today will be harvested in the tomorrows ahead of us.
Chris Cox, Director of One21 Ministries, is passionate about empowering students, providing resources to youth pastors, and championing the next generation to follow Jesus. One21 partners with Back2Back to reach students and empower them to serve orphaned and vulnerable children in Mexico.