Tuesday, November 16, 2010

No Greater Joy!

"He's serving as a deacon in his church."

That's the news we heard about Craig Long, one of the first teens in our first student ministry. Not only was Craig all grown up and serving as deacon, but he was blessed with a full family, married to wife Carol (also from our first youth department) and parents to their precious children. To make our joy even more complete, we discovered they lived just 75 miles away. The Longs came to my husband's very special ordination service to give a few words endorsing Russ to the congregation. It was a magical night. Craig and Carol, I'd love to reconnect!

Speaking of reconnecting, just recently I found a young girl from a previous ministry on facebook. Not so young anymore, she sported photos of a new hubby and baby, and a brand new nursing degree. Beautiful—this one! April came to me as a child so we could talk about her terrible nightmares. It was something we shared in common. She must have been 8 at the time. To fight the fear, she started journaling and memorizing scripture. I'll never forget how proud I was when she stood in front of the entire sanctuary to quote a full chapter in the Bible. She knew there was special power in God's Word. It got her through a rough time.

I smile every time I think of Easter that year. She was just learning about the Christian faith, and had lots of questions. She'd ask her mom and grandma, "Is the Savior going to be at church on Sunday?"

They'd reply, "Yes, April, the Savior will be at church. He's everywhere."

She got frustrated the more they assured her because it was obvious they didn't understand her question, so finally she blurted out, "No Grandma. Not Jesus. Is Savior WILLIS going to be at church on Sunday?" Pastor—Savior. I can see how that would get confusing! Certainly gave Russ a bit of a boost, and all of us a smile.

But nothing could prepare me for the joy of today. You see, today when I checked my facebook updates, I read that April had given a devotional Bible lesson for her church ladies the other evening. Little April, all grown up. Not just physically, but spiritually.
The Bible verse I share at the top of this post says it so well. There really is no greater joy than for me to hear that those I've mentored, my spiritual children, are walking in God's truth. It's times like this that God nudges me and says, "See Kathy. It's worth all the frustrations and suffering and pain of this life to point a child in the faith to learn of Me. To know Me. To trust Me. Don't give up. Keep shining the light so others can see the way."

By sharing this story, I pray you also realize that you are making a difference, and you can continue to make a difference.
Can you think of the ones who made a difference in your life? Why not leave a comment sharing their names? Let's all show thanks for those who impacted us when our lives were at the crossroads. Shaped us. Compelled us to choose right and to love the Lord. We get to serve it forward—and be blessed with no greater joy!


Gina Stinson said...

Great post. Thanks for the reminder and the encouragement!

Kathy Carlton Willis said...

Thanks, Gina! I have to confess that there's not much that gets me jazzed like hearing that one of my "mentees" has continued to seek and serve the Lord. It's like hearing the good news that someone you love is expecting or has received a job promotion—only BETTER!

Debra L. Butterfield said...

Thanks for putting my day into perspective, Kathy. Making a difference can be done in so many ways--not just by sharing Jesus, but by being like Jesus. I had a group of co-workers who loved and accepted me unconditionally at a time in my life when I really needed to be. They brought me out of the shell I had retreated into simply through their love.

Liz said...

Thank you for your encouragement in mentoring. I am currently working with 4th-6th graders, and as I pray for their spiritual development I am sometimes given to tears. I'm realizing the great responsibility to disciple them and how small a window of time it is. I continually remind myself to look to the future with hope because God can do amazing things in these children's lives.