One very important part of our mission at CRCS is to turn the eyes of our students outward. One way we approach this is to include service projects that call on students to give to a local community group that supports those who are less fortunate than they are. Suffice to say, children can get self-absorbed. They can become the focus of their own wants and needs, missing out entirely on what Our Lord seeks from us, which is to love our neighbor and give out of our treasure and talent to help those in need.
In the case of these projects, our students are taught that giving even small items such as diapers, boxes of cereal, or canned goods can impact those in a way that can even be more significant than they might imagine. Given the generally affluent environment that our students live in, it is easy for them to lose perspective on what it really means to need help. Nonetheless, we use these projects to put those needs before them in the hope that they will capture even a glimpse of how important it is to give…AND to be thankful.
On a spiritual level, the ultimate gift is the salvation given to us freely by Our Lord Jesus. This, at times, can even get lost in the noise of the Christmas season and service projects. As such, we encourage our students and their families to be on the lookout to help someone in need…someone who may be living in a situation that may be troubling and undetectable.
Such was the case for a family some years back who took it upon themselves to reach out to a young single mom who was working feverishly just to make ends meet. This family reached out to help. The mom desperately wanted her school age son to be in an environment wherein he could grow spiritually. So, in this case, the family invited him to attend the Awana program in their church. He was excited to go…and was faithful. Always ready to jump into their car when they pulled up to his apartment complex. When the parents would return him by walking him to his apartment door, his mom was very gracious, thankful, but was reticent about their coming into her apartment. The family understood and never pushed the issue.
Then, one Sunday when they came to pick him up, his mom said he wouldn’t be able to attend. It wasn’t but a few days later when they became aware of something horrible. The mom’s boyfriend, who had been coming in and out of the apartment, leaving it unpresentable for visitors, physically beat this young boy one night while he was in a drunken stupor. Within a couple of days, the young boy died as a result of the beating. To say this was crushing to this family who had been bringing him to Awana would be a gross understatement.
But…the hand of God moved. The family became aware that this young boy had come home from Awana one night, not long before his death, and told his mom that he had become a Christian. He told her that he had quietly prayed the sinner’s prayer that evening, having learned about salvation during Awana. Within days after that, he passed into His Lord’s hands.
The Providence of God
Now, you might be asking, “What is there to be thankful for in this?” We can give thanks to that family who decided to reach into this single mom’s life and connect with her son. We can be thankful that they were faithful in bringing him to Awana. And…we can be thankful that this young boy heard the gospel, received the free gift of salvation, and was ultimately “rescued” from a dark eternity.
What if this family had held back? What if they had made an excuse for not taking the time to connect with this young boy? What if…? This season, more than ever, offers the opportunity to share the “Good News”. Someone is waiting for us to step into their lives and be a blessing as this family was and to be the instrument by which the providential Hand of God can move to rescue them from a dark eternity. Remember, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.”