Saturday, March 28, 2009

An Eye-Opening Experience

Our family volunteered last night at the John 3:16 mission in Tulsa. They have a program called "City Kids" which is a community outreach program that meets the fourth Friday night of each month. John 3:16 actually goes out into the Tulsa community to some of the poorest apartment complexes and busses kids in so they can attend the program. Activities include a pizza dinner, fellowship, games, crafts, and a Bible lesson. Hundreds of kids attend this program and many, many volunteers are needed to help make it a success.

When we first arrived at 6, the Program Director, Steven Whitaker, gave all of the volunteers a debriefing of what would be occuring that night. It was great to see so many volunteers - especially youth - who were giving up their Friday night activities to serve God and their community.

We then went to our classrooms which were divided by age group. I took "A" with me and we helped out with the 5-7 year olds. Steve took "M" and they helped out with the 8-9 year olds. It was so sweet watching our girls helping other kids their own age. "A" made sure everyone had a nametag and a color page to work on. And when it was time to eat pizza, she ate too, but made sure to give everyone around her 2nd and 3rd pieces when they were ready for more.

After pizza, we went back to our classroom for worship songs and then a Bible Lesson taught by Pastor Noe. He talked about how God is knocking at the door of our heart and He wants us to let Him in. The kids then made a door hanger with Revelation 3:20 on it and they decorated it with stickers. After their doorhangers were covered with stickers, they thought it would be funny to put the stickers on their faces - "It's chicken pox!", they laughed! And before I knew it, they were decorating me! I had stickers all over my face, in my hair, on my back. They thought it was quite humorous and I wasn't about to stop them because I could see the joy in their faces and the fun they were having.

It's so sad the situation many of these kids are in - it's quite eye-opening for me and especially for our girls. It was so cold and rainy but still some of the kids came to the Mission in an old t-shirt and shorts - no coat! Of course, the Mission has a clothes closet and they make sure every child leaves well dressed and warm. Many of the kids come hungry and even try to stuff pizza in their pockets so they can have something to eat later that night. John 3:16 does a fabulous job making sure the kids major needs are being met.

I asked one little boy in my class who the man was that he was coloring on his color page. He replied, "That's Jesus! I love Jesus and He loves me!" I smiled and said, "Who else loves you?" He said, "My mom!" I thought that was so sweet and I said, "Tell me something about your mom," not expecting the answer he gave me. He said, "Oh, she's in jail. I just got out of foster care and live with my dad now." I can only imagine all of the things this little seven year old has experienced with his eyes and ears - breaks my heart.

That's why John 3:16 needs volunteers who can be a good, positive influence on these kids - we may be the only "Jesus" they ever see. We actually volunteered with some friends last night and they brought their kids, too. I would say "mature" 6 year-olds and older (with their parent's help, of course) could handle the responsibility. It's a great thing for small groups or youth groups to volunteer for. If you are interested, please contact the Mission at 918-592-1186 for more information.

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