One of my biggest goals after returning as a full-time Missionary to SVG (and particularly during the summer) is to begin discipleship relationships with children and adults in Barrouallie. Up till now I’ve had relationships with them centering on teaching or ministry, particularly the children through my daily Bible clubs, but there was a great need to take the next step with discipleship.
The big difference between a ministry based relationship and a discipleship one is ministries incredibly structured, and lasts a short-period of time (Bible club lasts thirty minutes). Discipleship relationships however use the random teaching moments of life that arise as people spend time together. Its definitely a lot messier and frustrating than ministry relationships at times, but it has a greater impact.
For me a big part of transitioning into discipleship relationships was opening my house for kids to come by almost any time for a glass of water and a Bible story. At first there were no restrictions on this, but recently I’ve begun enforcing a rule that says you can only come by three times a day for water 🙂 Along with this some of the best behaved young people are given “special privileges” at my home that include drinking coffee (roughly 1/2 inches in a cup), playing a game inside, reading a book, or sharing a meal.
Yes you read that right…at this point I have a visitor for dinner almost every night
Now of course there are some basic ground rules
- I decide what to give and how much (you won’t eat as much as me)
- Only one person comes to dinner a night, and you can only come once a week
- And breakfast and lunch are eaten privately (I have been known to share a peanut butter and jelly sandwich sometimes though)
The truth is these meals aren’t really about feeding children (even though they enjoy the food) but teaching them important lessons about the Gospel and life. Most of these lessons are taught not through lecture but by watching me and our conversations together.
The greatest blessings of these meals through this (and all discipleship experiences) is being able to have a serious conversation with them about spiritual needs).
Last night a boy came over for dinner and was quite happy with his corn and rice before noticing my plate had a hamburger on it. He immediately started asking me for a piece of hamburger but I said no. After sitting down at the table I thanked the Lord for a chance to spend some time with him, and he continued by praying that I would give him a piece of the hamburger 🙂
As the boy at his VERY SMALL piece of hamburger I gave him (editors note: I would love to feed every child in Barrouallie, but unfortunately don’t have the finances to do this) we talked about his prayer. “You know” I told him, “God won’t hear you pray if you aren’t His child.” He told me that he had accepted the Lord, and this began a conversation about his Salvation experience.
The truth is I’m not entirely sure if this young man is saved, but that opportunity wouldn’t have come during Bible club or other active ministry. So I am incredibly thankful for the chance to share some of my food with children in Barrouallie every night, because not only does it meet their physical needs, but reveals the deeper spiritual ones as well.