Watching Him Work

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:4-6

vbs team day 1-2

We returned from our first day of work on our missions trip and met up with the other groups back at the ranch.  From the time they walked it, it was evident that one of the groups had not had a good day.

They were beaten down, battle-weary, discouraged.

The first day at the Boys and Girls Club where we were doing VBS had not gone well.  The kids were not listening well; the staff was not encouraging; the battle seemed uphill all the way.

We wrapped our arms around this team as best we could that night.  We listened while they vented; we hugged them.

And we prayed.

We were determined as a group to use the opportunity we had been given to further the kingdom and not to give over ground to the enemy.  Their stress was our stress.  Their success was our success; their failure, ours as well.

So we kept praying.

Before returning to our assignments the next day, we laid hands on the team and prayed as part of our morning worship.

We kept praying for them throughout the day.

As the teams returned that evening, we all waited with expectation to see how the day had gone.

And God had done a mighty work!

The team returned…smiling, peaceful, restored.

The day went beautifully!  The changes the team made to the day’s structure had a positive effect!  The staff warmed up!  The kids listened better!

What a difference a day makes!

More importantly, what a difference a prayer makes!

Our team had the opportunity to go to the Boys and Girls Club the day after that.  I spent much of the time elated and teary because of the work I saw being done.

I watched kids saying Bible verses, singing and dancing to Bible songs, and loving on our team members.

kim teaching at vbs #2

vbs music

It was beautiful.

The power of love and prayer had done a mighty work in our hearts…and I think in the kids’ as well.

As we left for the day–the last day we would be there–the kids begged even our team, the new team, to stay…just as they begged the team who had been there all week.

By perseverance and prayer, God gained ground…and we got to be part of it.

It is something that I will not forget.  Praise Him!  Praise Him!

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Open Hearts and Baseball

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. – Matthew 11:25

On our trip, our family was paired with a wonderful group from Ohio.  What a blessing to meet these Godly friends and be able to really get close to them!  Included in the group were Tim and Trish and their boys Emanuel and Ethan, Terry, Ruth, Jessica, and Brittany.  Salt of the earth!  People we will be friends with forever!

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Our first day of work, we went to M.A.T.S. (Ministerial Association Temporary Shelter) to complete various jobs.  This shelter is for women, men, and families who have fallen on hard times and have no place to live.  Wonderful organization!

As we pulled up, a few of the residents were sitting outside at picnic tables.  We said, “hello,” and got a response…but not much of one.  My first thought was that they either were concerned about being judged by us, or were concerned about how we were going to act there (how preachy were we going to be, etc.).

We started working with happy hearts.  We painted rocks, built furniture, and cleaned.  We talked and laughed and made God connections that were beautiful.  Our hearts were full to overflowing.  We kept asking what more we could do, driving poor Melanie crazy, I think.

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The kids helped everywhere they could, Alex doing a man’s work (he is, after all, the size of a man and strong!).  They enjoyed getting to know each other, and were well-behaved and sweet.

They did have some down time, though, when they were unable to help out.  Being resourceful…and active…they found a plastic ball and bat and started a mini game of baseball.

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And God used this for His glory as well.

The residents sitting at the picnic tables were treated to a baseball game!

Inevitably, the ball was hit “foul” near them, and these residents graciously threw the ball back.  Then, the boys asked them to join in!  I looked over to see a couple of the gentlemen pitching and hitting, all of them…men and boys alike…having a great time.

God used some active, loud kiddos to help soften some hearts uncertain about interaction with us.  Praise Him for that!

When we left at the end of the first day, I thanked one of the gentlemen for being sweet with the boys, and he thanked me for getting to play ball with them.  Connections made!

We were blessed to come back a second day.

When we arrived, we were greeted not by small, tentative smiles. but by full-blown ones.

And we were greeted by hearts that were more open to the things of the Lord.

We ate lunch with a couple of the residents and learned their stories…and shared with them.  One of the gentlemen told us stories about his time in Vietnam, and his grandchildren in Nebraska.  He was thrilled to watch children at play.  He knew the Lord and joined our prayer circle at the end of the day.  We met a young woman who was trying to get her life back together and get out of some bondage of her past, and were able to pray with her, leading her to the Lord.

I cannot be certain how conversations would have gone on Day 2 of our time at M.A.T.S. had the boys not jumped in as they did.  God is awesome and would have accomplished His purposes regardless.

But to me, it was a good reminder that He can use the little things in life to accomplish His good works..

I am thankful not only for the work we were able to do…but also for the lesson learned.  God can use our kiddos to do big things for Him, just by being who they are.

And He can use me in the same way.  Praise Him!  Praise Him!  Praise Him!

Team Building

If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. – I Corinthians 12:17-18

The rest of the group started arriving.

We Wrights, already seeing God’s hand in our timely arrival, were not nervous…just excited.  We knew He had it.

And He did.

Each group arrived, as eager as we were.  As open as we were.  As full of God’s spirit as we were.

We started becoming friends in the first minutes, the first hours.

It was a glorious thing!

God took 60 people…from 8 different states…and made us a cohesive, loving family and team.

We laughed together, cried together, worked together.

A body of believers, separate from our own bodies of believers at home.

A body using its different pieces and skills and talents to make the work go well, the planning go well, the worship go well, the fellowship go well.

None of us, except our leaders, had been on an AIM trip before.  Yet, by the end of the week, we were talking about coming again next year, visiting each other in our respective states, and keeping in touch via Facebook, email, and letters.

They say that tragedy can bring people together, and I know from my own widows’ ministry work that it is true.

But so can work for the Lord!

Perhaps our trip is not unique in the way we bonded.  Perhaps others have been blessed, as we were, to walk away not as individuals any longer, but as a group.

But I glory in the fact that we were together.  I know I have made friends for life…for eternity.

As we were leaving the area, my little boys said, “Go back, Mom.  Go back to the ranch!”

I answered, “It wouldn’t be the same.  Everyone has gone home.”

And, while that makes me sad for the now, I know I will keep in touch with these people for the rest of the time we have here on earth.

And then starts our heavenly work in eternity!

How sweet it will be to get the team together there!

mountain lake ranch our home away from home pix

Not Too Early for God

He has made everything beautiful in its time. – Ecclesiastes 3:11a

Uh…what do you mean you are here?…we did not expect you…until tomorrow.

My first thought was disbelief; my second, embarrassment…acute embarrassment.

We had arrived at our family missions trip in Appalachia…the five of us…a full day early.

But…God had a plan, and it was soon revealed to us.

We had never done anything like this as a family.  We were excited…and just a bit nervous…about our week.

Now we were here…and here a day early.

A thousand things flitted through my mind:

  • Did I make a mistake on the date or did they?
  • Where were we staying that night?
  • Had I gotten other things wrong in my planning for the trip?
  • What did this mean for the rest of our week?

The lovely couple who were care-taking were not stressed by our early arrival.  They assured us that it would work out, that God had a plan for our early arrival.  That took some of the stress from my mind.  They called the owners of the ranch and secured a place for us to stay for the evening.  Problem #1 solved.

Now, what were we going to do since we were here early?

God quickly answered that question for us.

You see, our team leads, Dave and Sheila, needed us.  When we called them to inform them of our arrival, they were at the store, purchasing food for the 60 of us for the week.  They came back to the ranch, loaded to the roof with stuff…just as we arrived back from dinner.  We were able to jump right in and assist them.  Praise God!  And we continued to assist them…filling in for other advance team members who were forced to cancel for this trip.

God, in His providence, had provided extra hands for Dave and Sheila’s work, hands they would normally have had, but did not in this case.  He knew of the cancellations…and put right on my calendar to arrive a day early.  And we Wrights gloried in the opportunity to assist.

By the time the rest of the missions team arrived, we had “moved in,” become comfortable, shared some of our story with Dave and Sheila, and fallen in love with them.  We all recognized God’s hand in our early arrival

We Wrights were able to greet all who arrived, help carry luggage, and help set the tone for a week of ministry.  God was using gifts He had already worked on with us for His glory.

My embarrassment and confusion over how we arrived early was replaced by joy in the fact that we had.  God was in control of the week; that was highly evident.  He had set us there, early, to help get the ball rolling in the right direction.  Praise Him!  Praise Him!  Praise Him!

And this was just the beginning!  Please stay tuned for blogs the rest of this week, illustrating what He did in us…through us…it was truly a glorious week in the Lord.

AIM Appalachia July 2013