God has worked through us this summer at Impact. Here’s the stories of six kids that God allowed us to help this summer. I decided to write them up and read them aloud in one of our last intern devotionals. Needless to say, my interns and I did some crying.
Last year, the bosses kicked me out of VBS. They told me I had an attitude problem, I didn’t listen, and fighting solved nothing. Tough love, I guess. I missed school supplies. It crushed my intern. She had a soft spot for me and loved me despite my bad behavior. I felt her love even through my anger. I came back this year with a reputation, but still I had a second chance, a fresh chance. Some special people showed me unconditional love this summer and the last. My education ministers hadn’t given up on me all year. I came without a record of wrongs. Two interns chased me around my group, despite having little idea what it meant to discipline. Two others gave me special attention on the route, even though I come from the loudest family of six known to man. I’ve replaced the death stare with my beaming pearly whites. Now, I know the meaning of no and a positive attitude, and I know unconditional love.
My name is Diamond, and I’m in green group.
My mother brought my brother and I to VBS. I appeared content and ready to have fun like all the other children. Yes, most kids entered a somewhat foreign atmosphere, but not completely, as did I. For see, unlike all the other children, I didn’t speak the language of the land. Having just immigrated a month before, I easily could have felt overwhelmingly anxious. I could have felt stupid or ridiculous. Others might have said we don’t have time. Instead, Impact showed me unconditional love. My interns fought over whose buddy I would be. One won and translated everything to me every chance he had. One made sure to teach me any English she could get me to remember. Even with her other responsibilities, my reading director became my teacher. Now, I’ll go to school and know so much. I don’t have to experience the anxiety of knowing nothing and feeling completely alone. I feel unconditionally loved.
My name is Hector, and I’m in yellow group.
I’m bigger than most people my age. Some might argue I’m a bully. I can’t say I’ve never been called that. I’m not always aware of my size, and it makes it difficult to make friends. I don’t always listen, but I always smile. I often got in trouble but never sent home. Impact didn’t call me a bully. They gave me a chance. They showed me the love of the Almighty. My interns paid me special attention. When one child complained about me, they reminded me to watch out for those smaller than me, but they did while holding my hand, showing me the way. Big buddies sang with me at talent show and showed me how special I could be. Interns recognized my sweet nature and worked to expand it. They didn’t write me off as a bully. No, they loved me unconditionally. My sweet nature has become my only nature. For lunch, I volunteered to pray the other day. I thanked God for the interns, the big buddies, and for Miss Michael because they take care of us. I prayed with the love of Jesus. I learned it from a few special people that loved me the same way.
My name is Nancy, and I’m in orange group.
I followed my brother to VBS. My mom signed me up. When you look at me, you might argue I’m younger than I say. When VBS began, I cried every day. I mumbled nervously, calling out for my mom, wanting so much to go home. I felt miserable in an unfamiliar place with loud people. My interns struggled with me, an infant among toddlers. The bosses nearly said enough, but instead they showed me unconditional love, the love of Jesus. They gave me another chance. Then, God used a few individuals. An intern introduced me to the wonder of field trips. One accepted every apology I was made to give, despite my continual disregard for her authority. Another laughed through my stories, even if I told them in another language than his own. My education minister showed me the magic of lunch dates. Now, I can’t stop smiling. Now, I tell my stories like a comedian, not mumble them like the godfather. I have a routine, and I know, even if I don’t understand it, I’m unconditionally loved.
My name is Ricardo, and I’m in red group.
Some might call me bad. Some might call me hyperactive. Some might call me crazy. Everyone expects so much of me, to focus, to sit, to stand, to participate, to focus, to read, to walk, to focus. They want me to obey the first time, but I’ve already got my eye on the poster hanging on the opposite wall, and my hand is ready to pounce. I don’t know why my body works this way. I can’t help it. I try so hard. I get frustrated with my behavior, and I throw my head in my arms. Still, I learn Impact loves me. My interns have to chase me everywhere. Yet, they love me. I stab one in the eye with a pencil, but she loves me. She chooses a special big buddy for me one week. He becomes my idol and gives me the best week of the summer. I survived VBS only with the grace of unconditional love. Whether or not some interns came close to losing their cool, they loved me with the love of Jesus, and nothing holds stronger than that.
My name is Edgar, and I’m in purple group.
I got lost in the crowd the first week of VBS, although they knew then I couldn’t read. They excitement of it all kept me from acting poorly. Yet, as the second week started, a new building we entered, and the newness seemed overwhelming. The unconditional love began. Everyone began to realize I didn’t behave like every other child. Several individuals realized I needed special attention. Still, they didn’t know what I had and didn’t understand the best way to treat me. One intern began to investigate while another wondered how to help me. Still another tried patiently over and over again to help me read. They learned my diagnosis, leaving a bad taste in their mouths. Doctors told me I was bipolar, but I’m only in fourth grade. I didn’t understand why they cared so much, but I loved the individual attention. I didn’t get it much at home without the sting of negativity. While one intern was gone, my other became my rock. Countless times, she began calming me down in the hall. She missed me when I wasn’t there. My home life needed work, and Impact saw an opportunity. They sucked in my mom, and now I have a therapist to come to my home and my school. They now know I have autism, but hopefully soon it won’t define me. My mom is learning I need a routine and how to give me positive reinforcement. We both smile more, and she says nice things to me. She understands me more everyday. Impact showed my mother unconditional love, and now she’s learning how to provide it for me.
My name is Miguel, and I’m in blue group.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’”