I’ve been working with Inner-city kids for about five years now. It started with mission work over seas, then with the Boys and Girls Club and now with FCA. In the past five years, I’ve experienced some of the greatest joy I’ve ever known working with these kids; and also the deepest sorrow. I have learned so much about the way that God works and how He works through us.
I started out working with inner city youth because I saw the desperation and wanted to help change the world. I went in with my spirit full, ready to see lives transform in from of my face. To my disappointment, what I saw was anything but (what I considered at the time) miraculous. It was more like permanent exhaustion and discouragement and seeing the same kids make the same mistakes a hundred times over again.
I would love and pray and love some more. I would write them letters of encouragement and tell them every day that I was proud of who they were.
Yet, what I thought would happen in months, slowly started to take years. I got discouraged and upset.
I questioned God so many times. I wondered if what I was doing really mattered at all. “Hello?? Don’t you see me? Don’t you care about these kids?? How am I supposed to do the same thing every day, and never see any improvement?”
This was my struggle for years. I wrestled with the thought of, “why even bother…”
All the while, God was teaching me something about HIS character and about the way that HE works. How often I see myself as the one who has to figure everything out, when in reality, it’s already been done.
What I didn’t know then, what I couldn’t see, was that:
God is a patient God.
His timing is so drastically different than ours. Change doesn’t have a time-line or schedule in God’s eyes. It happens exactly when it’s supposed to happen in as little time or as much time as is needed. Sometimes we get these ideas in our head that if we can do X, Y and Z, then it will get done faster and we can stop waiting around. That is so opposite of how God actually works. Our life is to be lived by FAITH; not just in our salvation, but in every area of our lives. We are to trust that what is supposed to happen WILL happen when it’s time.
Being a follower of Christ doesn’t equate to making a few big decisions at a few moments in life; it means making a lot of little decisions every single day.
Mother Theresa said, ““Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
I have found that when I aim for big results in a short amount of time, I lose focus on the moment at hand. God has given us one day at a time, one moment at a time. He knows we can’t handle more than that. The little things we do, in the small moments of our lives hold so much worth and importance. A lifestyle lived in the present takes an enormous amount of faith, humility, and patience. But in the end, it will yield amazing fruit.
WE can’t change people. God changes people. We just love people for who they are and where they’re at in life.
I used to think that if I wasn’t always telling people what they needed to fix and how they could fix it, then somehow I was not living out my faith and truly believing it. What I was actually doing was trying to take the place of Jesus and do His job for Him. And trying to do God’s job for him comes from an attitude of distrust.
We have a duty to show others the love of Christ. But the fate of others is NOT our burden to bear. God is a sovereign God. He is, after all, our creator and father. He is big enough to finish the work that He has started in someone. We may never see the end result, but we have to release that into God’s hands and love people for who they are now and continue encouraging them with the love of Christ. The Holy Spirit convicts and guides us into truth. We need to let Him do His job.
It has been a long, beautiful and sometimes painful journey working with inner-city youth. It’s taught me things that I never would have known and stretched me in ways I never knew I needed growth. I have come to know more deeply the character of Jesus and how he truly is our provider in every way possible.
Assistant Director of Urban Soccer