There are several reasons why I really should wait to post today's Ministry Monday post a little later, the primary reason being that I have photos to go with it but they're not accessible right now. So if you're reading this and there are not pictures, come back later and it see if I delivered.
But the fact that I've been so delinquent in posting at all this summer, much less in a timely fashion, propels me to go ahead and get this thing up and running before this evening (or before my son comes home from work to give me the photos from his camera).
Still, let me say up front that the other problem I have with this post is that it might come off sounding a little self-promoting and I hate that with a passion. It is never my desire to toot my own horn, but in this case I simply want you to hear the song my horn is playing. In other
less ridiculously flowery words, I love the message of this little story even though it happens to come from my own personal experience. Hey, what can I say, for once my family managed to get it right and do something both a little noble and extremely rewarding. But it's not because we're all that special or generous or giving or thoughtful. It's just that God lined everything up and hit us with an awesome opportunity right in the middle of our collective foreheads! That's what it usually takes for the Harms family to do something right...
We've had the awesome privilege of occasionally providing bed and shower for one of my son's college friends for the past year or so now. Actually, we consider Jesse a friend too. His whole family lived here when we moved here and attended our church. We enjoyed their friendship and still keep in touch with them. But right about the time Jesse graduated from high school, they all took off for Germany and left him here to go to college at the University of Arizona. (Personally, I think I would leave my middle school age kids behind if I were moving to a foreign country and keep the more mature kids around! Not really...just joking!)
At any rate, when Jesse comes "home" to Sierra Vista (mainly to visit his girlfriend and other friends) we've been able to provide him with a futon and a shower and an occasional hot meal. Granted, our futon is out in the middle of our "open" bonus room, so the one thing we haven't really offered him is much privacy. But he seems ok with it.
I've been pleased as punch to offer Jesse a place to stay on the occasional weekend and Christmas break because I would want someone to do the same for my man child. And I know Deb and Trace (Jesse's parents) would do just that in a heart beat. In fact, maybe Daniel will head over to Germany one of these days and take them up on it. He would obviously get the better end of the stick.
Daniel and Jesse - both self-proclaimed geeks - checking out Daniel's new computer just after graduation a little over a year ago. (Terrible quality photo, I realize)
I never really thought much about our futon as a ministry tool when we bought it, but that's just what it's turned out to be. Jesse has probably slept on it more than any one other person. And I'm glad that has become it's primary purpose. Do you have anything like our futon that, now that you think about it, has turned into an avenue of ministry? A spare bedroom, an extra car, your kitchen, a cabin in the mountains?
In June we had another young college student visit our church for the first time. My husband contacted him just like he contacts all first time visitors via e-mail. When he did, the student responded with a request for someone to give him a ride to church each week. He was here just for the summer and didn't have a car. (He had paid $5 for a bus ride to church that first week. We were impressed.) My husband told Daniel to give Sam a call and offer him a ride for the next Sunday.
To make a long story short, Daniel began giving Sam a ride to church each Sunday which eventually turned into a ride to work each morning (after Daniel got a job in the same building) which eventually turned into Sam going to lunch with us most Sundays which eventually turned into a lasting and precious friendship with this young man from Hawaii.
I know Sam is grateful for the rides and the lunches and the friendship, but he probably has no idea how thankful we are for him entering our lives. We've learned so much from this college student from Carnegie Mellon. He and his parents moved to Hawaii from China when he was young and his grandfather is a pastor at their Chinese church in Hawaii. Sam is a dedicated young Christian who not only sought out a ride to church during his summer job stint, but is actively involved in a Christian small group at Carnegie Mellon, a school better known for its high learning and intellectual atmosphere than a Christian environment. I like Sam. We all like Sam. And we hate saying goodbye to him this week. Yesterday was our last Sunday lunch with him and this week will be the last one that Daniel will get to give Sam a lift to work and share his lunch hour with him. We have truly been blessed by this young man's presence this summer and we're holding onto the hope that he may be back next summer.
So not only has our futon become a tool for ministry to a young college man, but our 1992 Ford Tempo that we affectionately call Mr. B has also lent itself to ministry this summer. Sam probably had no idea he'd be riding around in a cheap blue jalopy this summer, but it, along with Daniel, has gotten him back and forth to the two most important places he needed to go: work and church. We're thrilled that God chose to use us to minister to Sam. We really were the ones who got the bigger blessing.
I've shared our two little scenarios of how God has allowed us to minister to some college guys. Now let me give you a few things I've learned along the way.
- God can use the simplest things in your life, your most basic possessions, to minister to others. Probably He uses the things we hold the most loosely in our grips. I've certainly not held tightly to the futon or our '92 Tempo. But that makes me wonder if there are other possessions that I'm gripping so closely to my chest that I'm preventing God from using them for bigger purposes and thus increasing their value...
- The returns on giving to others is far greater than the investment. We get so much joy out of being around both Jesse and Sam. They have no idea.
- God inevitably links us up with ministry opportunities. All we have to do is be available and willing. We all need to be on the lookout for these golden opportunities and grab them with gusto when they come our way. No need to be shy about it or get caught up in wondering if you're doing it right; just offer or say yes.
Please don't think I'm proudly telling you what we've done right. We do so little "right" it seems; we certainly have no bragging rights. But this morning my heart is simply full with the benefits of investing the little bit that we have in these two young men. I just want you to know that your heart can be equally full when you simply offer what you have with open hands and allow God to use you in someone else's life. What a blessing.
- Ministry is not just about "doing something" for someone. It's about building relationships. I'm so glad we didn't just give Sam a ride, but that we took him to lunch and spent time getting to know him. And I'm equally glad that we haven't just offered Jesse a bed, but we've shared dinner, played board games, and visited with him.
PS We have pictures of our family with Sam that we took yesterday after lunch. I'll try to get those up later.
Labels: Ministry Mondays