Just What I Needed to Hear

God doesn’t make things easy.

At least, that’s how I felt over the past few months. However, God revealed to me His heart towards this through many things He brought into my life.

At Character Camp the leaders gave an illustration on how staying inside our comfort zone can keep us from God’s best for us. One teacher stood inside a box while the other told her to grab a chocolate bar that was across the room. The leader in the box couldn’t reach it because she was confined to her comfort zone. Not only was this effective in teaching the kids the importance of stepping out in faith, but God also used it to show me that He wants to grow my faith as well.

One of the Monday night sessions we have at ITG was about the hidden power of trials. Though I naturally run from things that are difficult, the book of Hebrews says that without faith it is impossible to please God, and 1 Peter says that trials make our faith stronger. Once I come to trust that God has a good purpose in allowing my trials, I can embrace them instead of running away from them. Our instructor that night used a lever to illustrate this lesson. The lever is a simple machine used to gain leverage and lift heavy objects. In order to increase leverage, we move the fulcrum closer to the weight, not farther from it. In the same way, God doesn’t want us to run away from things that are difficult, but towards them, viewing those hard things as opportunities to grow in faith.

Instead of making my life as easy as possible, God is strengthening my faith and relationship with Him. I’m so thankful that God is teaching me exactly what I’ve needed to learn, at exactly the right season in my life. Crystal Collins, Education Director

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Antifragile In All Situations

Do you know what my greatest fear is? I fear pain; I dread discomfort. Physical, emotional, spiritual discomfort—I recoil at the thought. I believe that it is in human nature to hate pain, because, at its basic level, pain is usually an indication that something is amiss. When we feel pain, we instinctively want to identify and eliminate the cause. However, the lesson that God has been teaching me is that pain can be used for good.

My disposition was tested this fall when I discovered that I would be teaching, by myself, a thirty-hour course in a single week. Talk about pressure and discomfort! I wanted to run away. Of course, that was not a viable option, so I had to choose another plan of action, which was to begin preparing with much prayer and supplication. God says in His word to count it all joy when trials come, because it produces patience. As the preparation advanced, I felt secure in the knowledge that God loves me, that He would supply all my needs, and that it was all going to be worth it in the end. Armed with that perspective, I had fun preparing and teaching the classes to five bright students. God miraculously protected my voice, energy, and enthusiasm during that week, proving to me personally that He is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides. God used this stressful situation to prove Himself and to grow my faith. I’m still a work in progress, and every so often the dread of discomfort assails me. But my perspective is changing, and instead of seeing hardships as the enemy, I want to see them as an obstacle course carefully crafted by God to call out the antifragility in me. How about you? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live a life that is antifragile in all situations? With God, you can! Chrysendrea Lee, Curriculum Developer

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Changed In An Instant

img_1786I love the difficult kids. I was a very logical type of kid, so I love to work with children that critically examine what I teach about Christ. While these students tend to make sharp comments, their sarcasm often comes from a highly developed mind.

At Bible club, I had a very fun group of girls. They were very attentive, but it was difficult to teach that many girls in a small group setting. We had seventeen students at one point, and eventually we had to split off so I only had eleven. I felt overwhelmed and wondered if any of them were truly being reached.

I had Yocelyn on my group. Intelligent, sarcastic, and obviously hurting, she had a sharp wit that she used to cut those around her. It is easy to regard children like that as disruptions or troublemakers, but in reality, they’re the thinkers.  

It was the second to last week. We sat in large group, listening as the leader was sharing about Christ’s blood and how it cleanses us from sin, when Yocelyn leaned over and asked me a penetrating question. I answered it as quietly as I could.

Another question followed instantly. Again, I answered it. Her voice continued to rise as her mind played with what she was hearing. She wanted answers and she wanted them now!

Even with eleven girls, I wasn’t going to let this one go! I pulled her out of the group and into the hallway. As we talked, she listened with complete interest and focus, looking at the verses I showed her.

img_7542“Yocelyn, have you ever made the decision to become God’s child before?”

She shook her head.

“Would you like to?”

“Yes!”

Too shy to pray in front of me, she ran to a corner alone to tell Jesus what was going on inside of her heart. I could see a new peace behind the brilliant twinkle in her eyes.

The rest of the afternoon, she was different. It was a subtle difference. The way she handled herself and smiled demonstrated the change that Christ had made inside her. My brilliant little thinker is going to be a world-changer!

The children that are easiest to disregard are often the most important to reach. They’re our future! They will change our world. Julia Duncan, Community Ministry Director

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Something I Thought Would Never Happen

 

20161116_150901She sits attentively in the front row in class, ready to ask questions and learn. The only problem is that I can’t talk about God with her. Dana* and another boy from that class had come to Character Camp a few weeks before, and it was exciting to see them in school again. However I didn’t know how to teach them more about the Bible. Both are enrolled in different after-school programs and are unable to come to Bible club.

One Thursday after Bible club, we were at school waiting for some kids to get picked up, when Dana walked up and gave me a big hug. I asked her what she had learned that day and how she was doing. She answered both questions in an off-hand manner. “I just wanted to tell you that I’ve been writing a lot in the thankfulness journal you gave me.” I was so surprised! During character camp my teaching partner and I had given our girls little notebooks to record things they were thankful for. I hadn’t really expected them to carry through with writing in it.

“Hey, do you remember the hand motions we taught you?” img_7496I asked. We went through all the hand motions right there in front of the school. “With Jesus in my heart, God gives me the power to do what is right. To follow his word and His plans for me, and when hard things happen I can still give thanks ‘cuz it helps me grow!” To see a child understand that truth is life changing. Though I had been thinking that there was no way I could teach Dana about God, God taught me through Dana that anything is possible. Evelyn Calderon, Level 1

*name changed for child’s protection

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