These last six months have been very impactful for me. As I continue to grow in my walk with the Lord and in life daily I see glimpses of how the Lord uses me to impact others and be impacted by others. When I notice such moments of impact and reflect upon them I often pray, “Lord, You’re good.” I use this prayer to simply express my thankfulness to the Lord and praise Him. I am often reminded that it is a privilege to be used by the Lord to impact others and it is a joy to be impacted by others. Often moments of impact, giving or receiving, are not only composed of actions, but also of words spoken and even observing the joys of other people.
Back in February, the weekend before my birthday, I returned to Cleveland, OH to help my former employer out with the annual Fat Tuesday “Packzi Day” celebration. For those who do not know, I worked at an Italian bakery for eight years. The weekend before Lent we would make THOUSANDS of jelly-filled donuts called “Packzi” (POONCH-Key). This year, I came out of retirement (I joke that I did not quit, but retired) and worked 38 hours in four days. It turns out that this was extremely helpful to my former employer because he was down a couple key employees and really needed the help. Even though it was a hard time of work, I was glad I could help him out as best as I could. I did not realize immediately how much I helped him out until I was paid. This is how he expressed his thankfulness.It was a sacrifice for me to come to help him, but in the end, it was worth it to help a friend out.
There have been many instances this past year of how I sacrificed some time and even money to help someone out. In return I was blessed with finances that were beyond my expectations. I am extremely thankful that people give me the opportunity to work for them, even if its simple work, and they do so in order to financially bless me in return. There have been many other times where people have simply given me gift cards or money to help me financially. I know in the grand scale of things that God is providing for all my needs and He uses people to accomplish this. Through all of this, I know God has used me to impact all these lives through my time of service to them. And they recognize this impact I have had on them. I thank God that He has impacted them to help me out in my times of need. God is good! God uses His body (all believers) to minister to each other for the mutual growth of the body. He is so good.
As I reflect upon this year I think of other ways God has used me to impact others. One such way is how the Lord has worked in my heart to reach out to other people and develop deeper relationships with them. Prior to moving to Indianapolis almost three years ago, I was not very intentional in developing deep relationships with people but friendships often occurred via osmosis.Now, I try to be intentional in talking and hanging out with specific people in my life, whether it be over drinking coffee, eating food, taking them to do errands or simply sitting down and talking with them to better know them. I want to develop deeper relationships over intentional meetings but also in the midst of doing ministry together.
I am specifically thankful for Sunday mornings because I get to serve alongside great people that have changed my life. On Sunday mornings at Horizon Central we setup up chairs and equipment for Sunday service. Every week. And put everything away afterwards. Every week. I am also responsible for other little things on Sunday mornings that make up the Sunday Service. I have come to view this work as a privilege, especially because I can do it with great people that I deeply love. I am thankful for the conversations I have with these people during these Sunday mornings. Whether it involves talking about serious issues, sharing life experiences, or quoting lines from TV shows and movies. I treasure such times of fellowship (partnership in service).
My favorite day of the week is Thursday. On this day I am privileged to be a part of the three things I thoroughly enjoy. Typically, I spent the early part of Thursdays working around Horizon Central. I love figuring out the 115-yr-old building and fixing things that I am able to. The second part of the day I am involved in prepping and being a part of Elementary Club (E-Club), an after-school program ran by Eliza Kosobucki, the Elementary Outreach Coordinator for KIDS Inc. It is a joy and challenge (the good kind) to interact and influence 25+ elementary students weekly during the school year. Sometimes it feels like we are referees, but most times it is a delight and joy to talk and play with these students. More importantly, we tangibly demonstrate God’s love to these students and flat-out share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them. My favorite moments of E-Club were telling students Bible stories and observing how it impacted them. E-Club taught me to keep intentionally loving people despite their ungodly actions. I learned how to better relate and communicate with students who experience bad days. I was privileged to serve alongside my friends, good friends, and develop the brotherly love that the apostle Paul taught.
The last part of Thursday (my favorite part) consists of going to college/young adult Bible Study at the home of some very dear friends. It is through this Bible study that I have made many friends, some I consider very dear friends and value their friendship immensely. We begin by enjoying each other’s company, eating dinner, engaging in community praise and discussion-based study of God’s Word, and closing the night with variety of activities and discussions. It is through this study that I encountered many great people who love Jesus, love His Word, and love godly community. I have learned much from the studies and through discussions with friends. I may not be an active participant in discussions, but I enjoy listening to my friends speak. I appreciate how God shaped their lives. Every single person who comes to this Bible study is wonderful. Thanks, friends. 🙂
In final reflections upon this year I would like to share my experiences at Camp Allendale (Camp AwesomeDale) with KIDS Inc last week. KIDS Inc took 21 students and 6 counselors to Camp Allendale down in Trafalgar, IN for six days. These students live in the near South/South-East side of Indianapolis. This a week filled with outdoor living, crazy fun activities, and moments connecting with God. I witnessed students befriending each other when the day before they did not know each other’s names. I witnessed students being exuberant about serving each other food during meals. I witnessed students angry with each other in one moment and later mending their relationships. I witnessed students being challenged and overcoming many of those challenges with people they love. I witnessed students painfully sharing their life stories of pain and hurt and then seeing their friends comforting each other. I witnessed students hearing that God loves them and some of them responding positively to His love. I also witnessed our counselors dealing sometimes sternly, but very lovingly to students when they were misbehaving. I witnessed counselors demonstrating God’s love in word and action to students that did not know that God loves them. I witnessed counselors and students encouraging and helping each other through many situations. I witnessed students and counselors helping me after I broke my right foot* and could not do many things.
Many weeks before camp, KIDS Inc staff, volunteers, and supporters were praying for Camp Allendale and I witnessed the power of prayer during this time. God revealed Himself to students and counselors in many different ways. I spent some of my prayer time just talking to the Lord about personal issues and I am now seeing the fruit from those times. It was a wonderful privilege to serve these students alongside KIDS Inc. Now I know (by experience) why this is the favorite time of year for some people who go to Camp AwesomeDale. God is Good!
Sometimes in life I take moments to observe and reflect on what is transpiring. God sometimes reveals to me how much of an impact I make towards those around me and how they impact me. I treasure the times when people are intentional in reaching out to me. It means so very much to me that I am acknowledged and loved.
In closing, I would like to share why I intentionally use the word “privilege.” I have a dear friend who frequently uses the word “privilege” in regards to ministering to other people. They use it genuinely. They acknowledge that God has given them the privilege, not right, to serve in various ways. We cannot earn the right to serve God, but He graciously allows us to serve Him. We do not own any aspect of ministry and should not selfishly control it because it truly belongs to the Lord. This friend’s usage of the word “privilege” taught me to view ministry with a more humble attitude. It’s a privilege to serve God and I delight in it.
God is good. 🙂
*On Day 5 of Camp Allendale I broke my right foot by slipping off the side of the asphalt road and landing on the right-side of my right foot. I was running to catch up to some students. I walked on it that night and the following morning. From that point until we returned home, people helped me carry my things, transport me (one friend literally carried me across camp on his shoulders), and provide me with anything I needed. I am thankful for the help of my fellow counselors and students! I love you all.