Thursday, December 23, 2010

Oklahoma Part 4: Prayer

About half way through the session I slumped. I was done, burned out, ready to go home, physically and emotionally drained. I don't know what happened, but I needed to recharge! It was at this point that my roommate, Camellia, and I started praying every night for our classes the next day. The change in atmosphere as we prepared for classes, and the very atmosphere of the classes were dramatically changed the very next day! Why do we wait so long to turn our burdens to the Lord?

"What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer!

Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear!

All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer!"

That next morning, I held my breath as we walked into a usually difficult 4th grade class. The kids eagerly waved at us as we walked in, but they are always ready for something other than reading, writing or arithmetic. Camellia and I had prayed specifically for this class the night before. For the teacher, and several of the children by name. Not just that the children would behave, and that the point of the lesson would come across clearly, but that we would be able to meet a need in their lives as we taught the character quality of obedience. Amazingly this class time went surprisingly well. The class's attention was held unusually well with a skit about a soldier and a civilian boy who made the decision to go the extra mile. They loved it when we 'barked' out orders to them in military fashion. We finished class time with a quiz. As I collected the quizzes I started talking to one of the students while Camellia ended class. After some small talk he suddenly said, 'There are a lot of people in school that make fun of me, and pick on me. I get so mad! I know I shouldn't get angry at them, but I just don't know what to do!' He was visibly upset at the fact that he couldn't control his anger. He knew it was wrong and wanted desperately to do right, but he was helpless, as we all are, in his own strength. I wasn't quite sure what to say. I know the only one who can help him, but I have 30 seconds to talk, at best, and I'm sitting in the middle of a public school! A quick prayer for wisdom, and I asked, 'Do you ever go to Bible club?' 'Sure,' he replied, 'I go to church all the time!' 'So,' I continued, 'You already know who can help you!' After some thought he asked, 'God?' 'Yes!' I answered. 'Next time you get angry, pray, and ask God what He wants you to do.' He agreed to 'try' it the next time he got angry. I don't know exactly what his home life is like, but I know it is less than ideal and that God has a plan for him who has been made perfect in the image of God. Sometimes I feel helpless. The team can tell you story after heartbreaking story of child after child who's home life is terrible. Children who live with their grandparents and have no desire to, or even fear, seeing their parents because of how they have mistreated them, or because they are in jail. Children who have never known their earthly father, and hardly ever see their mother who lives with a boyfriend 10 years younger than she, 8 years older than them, and are left with most of the responsibility of caring for younger siblings. Elementary aged children who are involved in gangs and gang violence. Children who have 9 other siblings, all of whom are half or step siblings and have no idea who their 'real' father is. Children with deep emotional scars from abusive situations. Children who have never known the love of a real family, who grasp at the glimmer of hope we bring to them once a week in character class or Bible club. Each of these situations has a face. A soul that will last for eternity. Who will stand in the gap for them? "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth laborers into His harvest."

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