Wednesday, the second day of HBC Mission Connect was just as awesome as the first. When we arrived at Pepperhill Community Center, there were already a large group of kids in the playground ready to come in. The weather was beautiful, this time, so we were able to separate the children by grade and have them rotate from the stations of music and interp, prayer, story time, crafts, and recreation and then later meet back together for snack and door prizes. There was only a couple 5th and 6th graders (at first, they ended up with six by the end of the night) so I was moved to a group of a dozen energetic and very talkative 3rd and 4th graders, which were led by another senior in college, Katie. I was encouraged by the fact that a few kids in our group had brought friends with them this time. Our group started off with recreation. I thought the boys might complain about only having 15 minutes to play kickball but they all received a turn and were just happy to be with each other. From there we went to story time. Once again I was amazed at how interested and entranced the kids were by the Bible story.
Today it was on God’s protection (when we trust in Him) as they used the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den. The leader used the example of Daniel to talk to the kids about good and bad character traits. I myself was very encouraged by the story as well as I pondered on Daniel’s lack of fear in the face of death as he trusted God to protect him from fierce lions (see Daniel chapter 6).
Next, our group went to crafts. Our kids got a little rambunctious 🙂 at this point but we were able to calm a bit as several volunteers helped them make beaded “wordless gospel” key chains which represented the gospel story. Black for sin, Red for Jesus Christ’s blood which covers over all sin, white for purity cause Jesus forgives us and makes us clean, blue for baptism – the example of Jesus we follow to show others what God’s done for us (we made it clear baptism doesn’t save but is just a testimony), green for growing in the Lord (spiritual growth), and yellow for Heaven cause when we believed in Jesus and what he did on the cross, we received eternal life and will someday be in heaven.
From craft time, we went to prayer. It was a little difficult keeping our talkative boys quiet at this time, but the kids seemed interested ,when the prayer leader began to talk about how prayer was communicating with God, He said that Jesus listens to us, like a friend. One little boy raised his hand and shared about his scary nightmares. A few others said they had the same problem and even had panic attacks. In fact, one of our kids even thought it was possible that you could die from a bad dream, if you didn’t wake up in time. I would be afraid to go to sleep! I thought back to how I had a recurring dream of demons throughout my childhood, starting at 4th grade. I could sorta imagine the fear they felt, except I always knew I would wake up and that Christ was beside me. This conversation led the prayer leader to share the gospel a little as he talked about Christ’s protection and the reality that our dreams can’t hurt us, especially when we trust in God and ask him for help. Paraphrasing, the kids were told if they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior they don’t have to fear death and God will be there to help us in those difficult moments such as hard times at school,bullying, or bad dreams. Then he prayed, when the massive talking of the males in our group was quieted 🙂 ) .
Next, we went to drama and interp where we were joined by the 5th and 6th grade class, as well as about 15-20 teenagers (wow!). The kids were taught Mary Mary’s song with dance, “Shackles, Praise You”. I learned this song and loved it during my first year as a youth at Euroventure (the European Baptist Convention’s version of Centrufuge) in 2000 so I was excited to see it was still effectively being used in ministry! I have always thought that the picture that this fun song represents was beautiful. The kids had a lot of fun dancing and singing to it. Thirty kids praising in the parking lot of a neighborhood was pretty cool to watch, too. We also did , “Why don’t you?” again. The fourth grade boys really love this song. It was a joy to hear them sing the words of John 3:16 to the top of their lungs as they danced with all their might. We prayed before snack time and I was very happy when one of the boys in the 4th grade, who had first seemed a little difficult (named Wisdom! 🙂 ), volunteered to pray. It was a beautiful and heartfelt prayer too! We had door prizes and snacks and then the children were on their way again. We ended the night with a little over 50 children, which was quite a bit more than we had the first night. I believe all the HBC Mission Connect volunteers were encouraged this night. Others shared similar stories about the excitement of their children. We were especially encouraged by the even larger group of teenagers that showed up! We didn’t exactly have a program set up for them. In fact, the leader who was hanging out with them asked if he was supposed to be doing anything in particular with them besides hanging out with them and talking with them. The director replied that they should just continue what they were doing. The youth needed to be loved on and cared for. The teens did join our group for music and interp. I also saw them doing a craft and hanging out towards the rec area but I did not get a chance to ask the leader what exactly the teens did. As I observed them at music and snack time I noticed that many of them just seemed hungry for attention. Many of y’all know youth are my passion so I am hoping perhaps to spend a little time with them at the barbecue on the last day. I am thankful though for my time with the 3rd and 4th graders. They put on tough appearance but I could tell from the beginning God was stirring their hearts. A lot of exciting things happened today, Thursday, as well, but I went to two outreaches today (Folly Beach and Pepperhill) so that one may be a little longer and will have to wait til tomorrow! All I can say is that God still works miracles, even in the hearts of his smallest people!
Disclaimer: I am not responsible for the video above. Thanks to those who uploaded. If you have any problem with sharing, let me know and I will immediately take it down. Sorry, readers, I could not find a good source for the dance we did with the kids, but I do like the original music video as well! I did take some footage of the kids singing and dancing, but I do not yet have the right usb cord for my camera phone. Will post soon!