Availability over Ability
One thing that quickly stands out in ministry is that your availability tends to be much more valuable than your ability. It’s a concept I first heard in a college Bible study, and something that I have told my students many times. When you’re energy and effort falls completely flat, fear and worry take over. However, as I have often seen throughout Scripture and the experiences of others, this is when God loves to step in.
Last week, we had our youth junior high mission trip to Hidden Acres Christian Camp, just past Kaufman, Texas. We had five students and two adults join in with two other churches from Dallas. We all served as the leadership for a children’s day camp comprised of Vickery Meadow refugees. It was a busy and amazing week working with the children, several of which our students have been working with on Tuesday nights at the Celebrations VBS in Fair Oaks Park. This was the third time we have had a youth mission trip at Hidden Acres, and the link to Celebrations VBS added an exciting new element to the consistently powerful experience of service provided there. Watching teenagers engage children daily with the love of Christ and the gospel amidst linguistic and cultural barriers, and often flex outside their comfort zones, is an incredible thing to witness.
Immediately following our return from Hidden Acres, we had our 4th annual BIG Games here on the TFC campus. During the summer of 2013, I reached out to three other youth ministers at local churches and we begin collaborating doing events together. TFC hosted the first BIG Games that July with 100 students in attendance. The event has rotated around the other churches each year, and it returned back to TFC this past Sunday. There were approximately 120 people on our campus, and we played several games and relays (including frisbee with an octopus) for a trophy. Some of our kitchen ladies and their husbands provided a cookout dinner for everyone, and a Gospel message was presented during the meal. This event has always been an outreach event, with several unchurched friends participating each summer. Watching teenagers in North Dallas who share schools, neighborhoods, and even friends come together as the body of Christ at events and retreats during the year is another incredible thing to witness.
As I climbed into my car Sunday night, the only car left in a dark parking lot, I couldn’t help but smile. I remembered sitting at home the previous Saturday with a low-grade fever, already feeling worthless for the week ahead of me. After a 100-hour week, acknowledging my weakness and lack of faith in myself, I rejoiced in seeing how God used me in spite of my lacking ability. It was an incredible thing to witness.
How often do we forget that God values dependence and surrender so much more than our prideful effort? I know I forget…but I’m grateful for His grace and reminder this past week.
Jeff Harding, Youth Minister