It was a first. Every Spring, as we approach those summer months when activity ramps up, we are excited about what God will do. For years, Forest Park Ministry has been blessed to have one or more summer missionary interns to help. In addition to increased numbers of families needing food assistance (children are out of school without the breakfasts and lunches provided there), there is a need to provide positive and Christ-centered activity for children, especially those in at-risk situations. Our summer missionary interns have always been instrumental in facilitating these activities, including a weekly kids club or sports camp activity and at least one Backyard Bible Club experience.
We approached Summer 2015 with the same expectation. Requests made, word spread, some possibilities but nothing panned out. For the first time in at least 7 years, we approached summer with no summer intern. It was tempting to panic.
But God is Sovereign; and He has the better plan. This summer, we have had the most opportunities to either plug into or fully participate in EIGHT churches’ VBS or Backyard Bible Clubs. Capitol Heights youth led a Sports and Bible camp at Pine Oaks and Sherwood Apartments, Anelda Cook of Heritage spearheaded a Journey Off the Map Backyard Bible Club conducted by Mission Serve youth and leaders from Houston; I was privileged to be a daily part of the VBS at both Mt. Zion Baptist and Heritage Baptist; Eastmont Baptist invited me to speak about the ministry and brought food collected to the center later that week; Eastern Hills collected food for the center and brought it to us; Child Evangelism Fellowship conducted a 5-Day Club in the Forest Park neighborhood, and Heritage Baptist just completed the last Journey Off the Map Backyard Bible Club in the Forest Park Neighborhood, culminating in the largest participation that we have ever had with our Mixtecan neighborhood children. Add that to what the Mixteco Task Force is doing to forge relationships with our Mixtec families. I NEVER could have imagined or planned that without a summer intern, but GOD did the planning, and HE provided the groups and individuals to staff each effort. To God be the glory!
In addition to a deeper trust in God’s Providence, He has shown me this summer new areas of ministry needed. Here is an example of the kinds of needs we see:
“He is at a crossroads in life. As a young teenager, he is a member of a hardworking and strong family, a middle child of many sons. His male role models are tough, strong, and fervent believers in the machismo of the men in their indigenous culture. He has lived in the United States all of his life, but his parents are still deeply entrenched in the ways of his people.
"He wants to be a man. He has learned throughout several years of neighborhood Bible clubs that Jesus is the Son of God, He is the way to Heaven, and if we ask Him in our heart and trust in Him, He will save us from Hell and lead us in life. He has done this, even “rededicated” himself to Christ, but somehow he is drawn back into the tough guy, defiant ways of the street."
I feel so compelled to reach out to him, and I (and others from the center) do, but he needs a godly man to walk alongside him and disciple him. And even as I believe that to be a great need, even more I see that if his father and uncle were befriended, led to Christ and discipled, the harvest in this young man’s life would be all the greater. The tug between street savvy and humbly walking with Christ is difficult for anyone finding their identity in this day and time, but the Way is so much clearer if Christian values and humility are modeled by those we love the most.
So back to what our friends on the Mixteco Task Force are doing. Would you make a matter of prayer the outreach to the Mixtecan community? We are meeting on Monday evenings, twice most months, to assist with practical matters, to build relationships, and foster trust among friends. It is our heartfelt desire to lead those who do not know Christ to know Him fully, and to one day be able to help them plant a church in their heart language. God has shown us already this summer that even though we may not see a way, He can make that way clear. We are leaning on Almighty God in His perfect timing to do just that.