Over the past few weeks, Cameron and Jeremiah have started a basketball program at one of the toughest middle schools in Springfield. It’s been amazing getting to see them being strong examples for these kids and building relationships through basketball—but it’s been even better hearing some of the conversations on the sidelines. I’ve been doing crafts on the bleachers as a way to get to know some of the kids, and yesterday I heard snippets of “Who are the people in the t-shirts? They’re nice.” “I think they’re Jesus people.” “When are they coming back?” I talked to one of the fifth-graders for an hour last week about life and Jesus and music, and yesterday I had the chance to share the gospel with another girl while we made Wordless Book bracelets.
Older kids—especially in the setting we’re going into—can seem so much harder to reach than the cute six-year-olds that come running across the room to give us hugs. Sometimes the younger kids bond with us so quickly; they can tell that we care about them and trust us almost immediately. But the older kids can seem like they already know what they want to believe about the reason we’re there. Most of the time they’d rather be on their phones or with their friends than hanging out with random people in the gym. But God has been showing me something: it doesn’t matter how old the kids are. It doesn’t matter if we’re in chapel at Club Hope or in a neighborhood playing jump rope or in a loud school gym where it’s hard to hold a conversation. It doesn’t matter if we reach a hundred kids or just one, if we feel like we made a difference in a child’s life or if we never know.
From the ones who send us texts telling us Jesus loves us to the ones who act like they hate us, God has a plan for each one of these kids. Our job is to be messengers of His hope, in whatever way He puts in front of us. It is such a privilege to be a part of what He is doing in this city.