Let’s just get this out of the way right from the start, yes Bahamas is where many lucky people get to vacation. Yes, yes it is absolutely beautiful and yes Atlantis is there and is really pretty awesome. Yes to all.
Truth be told, in America we have been given every opportunity to train up our children in the way of the Christian faith if we do so choose. We have Young Life, youth groups, church camps, VBS, Christian sports leagues, and Christian fast food chains.
You want some Jesus? Jesus is available to children and teens alike in every which way and on every corner. If they want.
When I go to the Bahamas I want to share.
I want to share the programs and the camps and sports programs that we have.
I want to give more to the Bahamian and Haitian children and teens who light up at the opportunity to play basketball or make bracelets.
I want to hug them longer because they love being loved and they love hearing and sharing stories.
These past few days I found myself in a van of about 10 Bahamian teens. I noticed they were getting a bit rowdy and Dave and Gabe (our on the ground Caribbean Youth Network missionary but more on him later) were not near the van so it was up to me to gain order.
“Keep it PG-13!” one of them yelled. I say half joking, “What are you guys doing back there?” When I plopped down next to them I realized (in the words of my 90s upbringing) they were “getting it on” in the backseat of the 15 passenger van we were about to take them to Club in.
Also, they were not happy with me for ruining there time. I believe the quote was, “Thanks for ruining my day.” But I stuck it out back there with them and what began with immense humiliation turned quickly into a really nice conversation.
They asked me about my children, my marriage, how old I was, and where I lived. I learned what they wanted to be when they grew up and how many brothers and sisters they had.
One of them had 17 brothers and sisters. 17!
In 20 minutes I fell in love with the same 10 kids I wanted to boot out of the van. They might be teenagers like the rest, but they are hungry like sponges for the love that Jesus wants to pour out on them. In all my cheesiness and in all my quirks I feel fully free to love them with all I have got.
These Bahamas children and teens need more of this type of love. People hear “missions”and “Bahamas” and they might not realize the harvest that is available for the picking.
Gabe, Jan and their daughter Grace hosted us for the week (you can read more about them here). They are full time missionaries who have been there for five years and frankly they need more help. There is way more opportunity than there are people to do the work.
-Work in Children’s Home (kind of like a foster house)
You name it, they need it. Missionary work is available through them starting now. If you know someone praying about going onto the missions field would you send them this information? Check out Gabe’s website or, better yet, email him about more information. Or maybe someone trying to get into Youth Ministry, there is no better place to start. Here is a link to CYN (Carribean Youth Network).
I saw all this too as explanation, for God has opened our eyes in a way that we cannot close them shut again. There is pure joy to be had in the serving of those who want it and need it to the utmost.
I’m not going to lie, as I sit on the plane ride back home I cannot but feel like the rich young ruler. A God following rich young man came to Jesus to ask him what he must do differently in his life in order to be with Jesus forever in eternity. Jesus said, “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me.”
“When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth” (Luke 18:22-23).
Today, like this rich young ruler, I feel sad. For I know I have much to offer but I don’t know how to loosen my grip on what is already mine.
It’s a good dilemma to have, to encounter so closely a hands on Jesus ministry to those who need so much that you now don’t know how to live without it. But a dilemma it still is.
So in all things, in any of these hard life things, I pray for you and I pray for me too.
If you live in America with me and have put Jesus to the side, could it be that we have so much that we don’t think we don’t really need Him?
If you live in America with me and Jesus is at your center, would you pray with me the prayer that I am praying, is there a way that God wants to use you further to love on the poor, the widow, the orphan?
Or maybe you are on the ground in the Bahamas, maybe I’ve met you and you live there (and if you do you know I LOVE you with a burning passion) how can you lead those around you? Trust me when I say, God has given you all you need to lead and love well all you need to do is make it a priority.
One last cool story. Gabe said that Francis Chan went to the Bahamas to do a seminar for Christian leaders. What he finished with was something along these lines, “You have the amazing opportunity to change the direction of an entire nation.” Chills even now as I repeat.
I would love the honor and the privelagw to help change an entire nation, would you?
Many of you prayed for us, we felt your prayers and we thank you! Dave shared with me this morning that trusting God in his fear was a big part of this trip for him. Dave hates flying and experiences great anxiety over it. This trip Dave and I took 5 flights, one of them on a four person plane, and God was so faithful. Dave was such a great example that fear is a natural part of our human experience, but it is when we choose not let fear have power over us that God does exponentially miraculous things!