"Your Shirt...It's Happy"

“…From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”  Ephesians 4:16

I was reminded of this verse over the past few days.
As a team, we have been learning that we must first love each other before we could ever be effective to the people in Greece.  And on Sunday when I woke up with the stomach bug leaving me unable to join the group to church, Elise kindly sacrificed her day to stay behind with me.

On Monday, we began working alongside a community center that is set up in a neighborhood primarily populated with Albanian immigrants.  Missionaries and volunteers from First Church in Athens have run the community center for the past three years providing the youth with a safe place to play games, learn to use computers, and interact with the volunteers from First Church.  Most of this neighborhood’s residents have no religious affiliation, as they come from a country that was communist for almost half of the 20th century.  But as the missionaries and volunteers have built relationships with these kids, they have had the opportunity to teach the youth about Jesus and even see some kids start coming to church.

Every summer, the community center moves its activities outside, for a series of festivals and sports tournaments in the town square.  Before we began, we sat down to discuss who would be doing what.  They asked if any of us could unicycle, make balloon animals, juggle, or stilt walk…  as if any of us had been in a circus before J.  Elise did face painting, Emily took up the Diablo, Trevin and Kelsey were on stilts, Jaimeson, Joanna, and Tyler were in charge of the water games and group events... Tyler also juggled, Rachel hula hooped, and I was in charge of Twister… and I must say, each person incredibly enjoyed their job!  It was neat to see all of our talents, or at least enthusiasm, being utilized to make these festivals a success.
As we headed to the Square, a parade of kids marched up the road with us, ready for the fun and games to begin.  As soon as I set up, there were kids ready to play.  At first I just spun the wheel and pointed to either feet or hands and the color, then a 12 year old girl named Anna came up and asked in English if I needed help… YES!  Precious Anna helped me with my Greek colors and translated the directions to the kids for me.  She didn’t leave my side other than for the group events every 15 minutes and face painting, and then she was back again, helping me with Twister.  She even helped me pick up, and hugged me goodbye at least three times.  She was definitely a God sent encouragement!
There was also a man who performed a magic show, which he used to share the Gospel in the most clear and effective way possible for the kids.
 Tuesday and Wednesday we were back to the festival!  Anna greeted me with hugs each day, faithfully stayed with me to help, and occasionally would drag me to meet some of her friends.  The festival was always ended by a circle of kids showing off their break dancing skills… And though my team has picked on me for my Christian rap, it came in good use these past 3 days!

We have gotten responses from the kids and their families during the past 3 days of Festival.  Parents have asked why this is done every year for the kids, why Americans always come to help, why it’s done for the kids for free, and so on.  They see the people behind this are different, and they are amazed at how generous the community center is. We even got comments on the t-shirts that the community center gave us to wear (hence the title of this post).

Each of us is a joint… a purposeful and necessary joint for the body to function properly.  We are each exceptional.  This is something that God focused my heart on during the festivals.  I didn’t think I was doing much for these kids, but Anna was an encouragement God sent to me.  She reminded me that just showing them love, just giving them some attention, smiles, and a taste of a God-given joy was sharing the Gospel.  I think of my sweet Anna and others like her and how much I yearn for these children to know Christ as their Savior.  I cannot save these children, but I, as well as the rest of our team and the nationals we are working with are vessels to guide them even a step closer to falling in love with the everlasting King. 

“…that Your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.  Let the people praise you, O God; let all the people praise You!  Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth.”   Psalm 67:2-4

No comments:

Post a Comment