26 August 2009
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (I Timothy 4:12). This story is about how God can use children even though they may not be aware that God is using them in a mighty way!
Hannah is a beautiful blonde blue-eyed six year old that lives on the other side of the world and yet God has given us a connection that He has used to further His plan.
But to understand the full impact she has made I need to go back 18 months – January 2008. That was when Gary and I found ourselves in the Swiss Alps doing a program for children of staff of an organization from a large country in Central Asia. The staff involved in this conference came from America, Russia and The Netherlands – quite a mix of people groups. On the last night of the program after we had walked the children back to their parents, one of the staff women pulled me aside and said, “You should have been here to hear what the parents said.” For the next few minutes she listed different things that the parents related of how significant the childrens program had been. God had been working in significant and deep ways during that week – not just in the lives of children and families but also in my heart.
During this conference several people came up to me and asked if I would be willing to do this type of program at other conferences. I was willing but not sure where it was all leading. Wait and pray was where I ended up at the end of this conference. I had two initial offers for other conferences – waiting for the details.
One year later – January 2009, I was in Thailand doing another kids program for staff from central and South East Asia. Hannah and her family were attending this conference. I was Hannah’s teacher. She was quiet but engaged and really enjoyed the week. She loved to color. One never really knows what the kids take away from these conferences, but it is always hard for these kids to say goodbye – especially because they have to do it so often. God continued to use this group of kids and this conference to refine my vision for ministering to TCK’s.
After leaving Thailand a struggle began in my heart and mind. Thailand was a tough conference in some ways and yet I was still drawn to the concept of helping families living abroad by taking care of their children while they are attending conferences. As I began to wrestle through the questions that came up as a result of the Thailand conference, I was receiving green lights from the people at my church. I began to sense that this was the direction God was leading, but didn’t feel qualified. I began to list reasons why I wasn’t the right person to create such an organization. As I began to think about this more and more, I realized that I am not an entrepreneur – one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise. I have some of the aspects, but definitely not one to do this on my own.
As I was able to put words to my thoughts and ask questions, God sent two friends across my path at some very unexpected but critical times. The first question I was asking was along the lines of, “Why would God choose me for this task, I am not an entrepreneur?” To which friend #1 replied, “You don’t have to be, God is!” While this was helpful, it still did not help me determine what my role was to be in the process. I knew I couldn’t do it alone and was not sure where to go next. God graciously brought another friend across my path and he did have some good words to say to the question of what is my role. When he heard me talking and lamenting the fact that I am not an entrepreneur, he said, “Corrie, entrepreneurs are everywhere and if that is what you need to continue, I’ll find you one. But what you bring to this venture is a vision, the ability to communicate that vision and bring others along side to mentor them. People like you with a vision are hard to find. We need you for the vision, to get things moving.”
With those words I knew what my role would be and that God would provide the help along the way to make it happen. Now I just needed to firmly grasp the vision that God wanted me to communicate
I am now in Colorado at a conference that I have been trying to get to for a couple of years – one where I have been asked to do a childrens program, but it has not worked out. This year, I am here to observe to see if I might bring a team in the future. I have started the process of beginning an organization – CLUB 4th whose vision is to serve TCK’s living around the world by providing programming for them while their parents are attending conferences. So while at this conference, my assignment was to work at the registration table as the families came into register. To my great surprise, a family from my first conference in Switzerland walks in. The girls didn’t remember me at first, but once we talked for a while their faces lit up as they remembered all the fun crafts that we did at that conference. A few minutes later, a family from my church walked through the door. They had heard that I was going to be there and were looking for me. It was so much fun to see their children. I had not seen them in a very long time. The final surprise that I had – Hannah’s dad walked through the doors. I immediately asked where the kids were and found out that they were all sleeping in the car. I would see them in the morning at the kids program.
The next morning, Hannah and her brothers came to the kid’s program area. Hannah was hiding behind her dad and was overwhelmed at what she was seeing. I was on the other side of the room watching and slowly walked over to Hannah.
“Hello Hannah. Do you remember me from Thailand?” I asked her.
“Yes,” she said as a big smile came across her face. She immediately took my hand and walked into the room with me without any hesitations. We were just about to begin worship and she joined in, but held onto my hand the entire time.
Once worship was over, Hannah and I began to walk towards the room where her class would meet. Her younger brother, Joshua was struggling with the transition and before Hannah and I left, I asked him a few questions. He recognized me as well and took the other hand and walked with us to the classroom.
Hannah was not feeling good after that first morning. Her parents thought she was just tired, but when I saw her at dinner, I could tell she was not feeling well at all and was now running a fever. She told me what was wrong and I asked if I could pray for her. She said yes and as I knelt down to pray for her, I put my hand on her thigh. She grabbed hold of my hand, first with one hand and then before I finished, she had wrapped my hand in both of hers.
Hannah became my constant companion during the conference. She would look for me every morning and run over to me and give me a big hug. I learned much about her life, what she likes and that she was really looking forward to her grandma coming up after the conference. We had a great time.
I had to leave before the conference was over. In the chaos of the group getting ready to leave for an afternoon of rafting, I found Hannah and her family so that I could say good bye and pray for the rest of the conference for Hannah. Hannah ran over to me and wrapped her arms around my neck, gave me a big hug and said, “I didn’t know you were going to be here, but I am so glad that you were.” At that moment, I knew that this is why I do these conferences – for Hannah and others like her. She made a connection in Thailand that helped her through the tough transition in Colorado. I was the one face in a sea of unfamiliar faces that she recognized and it made her feel comfortable. It gave her a sense of peace and that things would be alright. God was very real to her because He loved her enough to send her a familiar face! It meant a lot to her.
TCK’s have people in and out of their lives and are coming and going from place to place. For Hannah, it was helpful to have one familiar face to make it seem less like a new place, but a place where she had a friend waiting for her!
That is why CLUB 4th exists – to give children like Hannah the sense that we care about the changes in her life. I want her to have fun and enjoy the conference and most importantly to learn more about the God of the universe that cares about her to give her a connection in a place like Thailand for the time she really needed a friend in Colorado.
Thank you Hannah for letting God use you in my life, even though you might not even have been aware of what God was doing!