The Times They are a Changing Again

Sunday night, I sat at a little round table in a Sunday school room at the Mount Olive Church. The table was strewn with booklets and Bibles and cups. Seven rambunctious junior high girls surrounded me. It was chaotic and and wonderful and eye opening. Only one of those girls was a covenant PCA child. Our other covenant girl was out, as well as one of my regulars or I would have had nine. It was amazing.

The beginning.
In our first year of marriage, Tuan and I were looking for a place to live and jobs. Camping, we felt, was his calling, but doors were shutting. On the other hand, Mount Olive was calling. We felt so drawn to the town and church and when Tuan was hired to work as a finish carpenter in Jackson, we quickly found a rental house outside of town and settled in. Some months later, we were asked to work with the kids on Sunday nights and since 2004 we have spent Sunday nights (excepting summer) at the Mount Olive Church teaching, singing and playing. It's been a strange, difficult, yet good ministry. We've taken the kids through Pilgrim's Progress, Genesis, Exodus, some of Lev/Num/Deut, Joshua, Judges, Ruth and now 1 Sam. It's been neat to see some individual growth and to grow close to this church family.

Last year, however, was very discouraging. One of our core families (three kids is a huge chunk out of ten avg!) separated and the parents are going through a sad divorce. The kids were removed from Sunday nights and it left a huge hole. With Aubrey's birth, I spent most nights in the nursery rather than in the room with kids. I felt purposeless (and selfishly wanted to be home sleeping or resting rather than driving 50 minutes to sit in the nursery or spend a few moments with the kids) and was so discouraged without those three beloved kiddos. When we ended for the summer, we had acquired two new girls (sisters) from the community (who we were able to send to camp!), but still things were ___.

Prior to our return, I had heard rumors that our remaining oldest girl was thinking about going somewhere else on Sunday nights because she wanted to be with girls her own age. It was so saddening. She is a wonderful girl and such a blessing to the group. With our pastor, we discussed forming a class for the "older girls" that I would teach. Providentially, Mom and Dad moved back to Mount Olive and wanted to keep the kids on Sunday night. This is where things began to change.

Our first Sunday night, the sisters brought a friend, then, the next Sunday night, I had the original sisters and the friend's sisters. Caught unprepared, I shared my testimony (including a heavy dose of the gospel) and our class was formed. This Sunday night, I had the crew described above, plus a friend and a cousin. Wow.

It's hard to explain how this is all going. Our material is Susan Hunt's True Woman Series. It's great, but the diversity of backgrounds that I'm dealing with makes teaching this material pretty crazy. I've got my two covenant children on one side who go to the Academy and have intact families, and understand a good bit of theology. In the other side of the ring are my mavericks. These seven girls attend the public schools, some are minorities, most are literate in Bible Stories, but not in the gospel or theology, and are from badly broken homes. How can you begin to teach them the Woman's role in the church when the God they know of and the gospel is blurry?!

Pray for me and for them. I am desperately aware of the need the Holy Spirit in this--for words for me and for them to see, hear and understand God's word. To give my faithful readers an example: In the middle of our study about Mary the mother of Jesus, my oldest raised her hand and said: "Miss Paula, did you say Jesus was God? I didn't know Jesus was God" Explaining the Trinity fully prepared is hard enough, but on the spot is even more so! Fortunately, I was able to explain the Trinity somewhat by describing the roles of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in salvation.

So there we were. Attention spans drifted, but we had our study, shared prayer requests and prayed for each other, then wrote notes for someone who was sick. I have no idea how long I will have these girls--some of them probably lead very transient lives and I am trying to not take a single hour for granted. I beg of your prayers for me and my girls. God has put together this precious group of little women and I know he has a purpose and reason for this. It's terribly encouraging to not only have this ministry at Mount Olive go in this direction, but to also be thrown own my knees at the craziness of it all and the hope that God will use me. At a later time, I may post brief descriptions of them, but this is enough for any patient person to read through. Thank you all for your prayers!

1 comment:

Jason said...

Hey Paula...I just read this blog...how encouraging! I'll be praying for you!