Church sleepovers. The youth love them, while the leaders usually dread the thought of having one. I entered Gateshead Evangelical Church on Tuesday with a face full of excitement for what would become two days of fun.
With any ministry event, there is always challenges and joys. Logistically and physically, church sleepovers can be exhausting. Managing eleven rambunctious kids for 33 hours was the task me and a few other leaders were challenged with. During this time we had so much fun playing games, listening to helpful teachings, and going to a fair where they rode rides until they threw up (literally). These hours were so fun and precious, and I wouldn’t change them for the world, however there were moments that were extremely challenging, and they began around bedtime on Tuesday evening.
I was tired. We had had a very physical day of playing games, cleaning up messes, and having fun. I knew that I would have to wake up early to make breakfast and let one of the other leaders out of the locked church so they could go to an interview. Because of this, I wanted to make sure to get a little bit of sleep despite having 8 crazy girls to look after. Around 12:30 when we got into bed I decided to try to sleep despite the kid’s constant giggling and chatting. At 3:00 in the morning the other leader woke me up to let her out of the building so that she could go home to prepare for an interview (she woke me up a few hours before she planned to leave). At this point, I was very tired. It was about an hour later (I think) when I then found to two girls in the children’s trampoline. It was at that point that I was very frustrated. These girls knew me. We have a very close relationship. I had told them what was expected and how much I needed them to obey. It was in my frustration that I shouted at them to go to sleep and to obey what I had already told them to do. Then at 6:06 in the morning the other group of girls woke up and began loudly talking and laughing. It was at that point that I decided to get up and start making breakfast early because sleep was not going to happen. Thank goodness I had some pancakes to direct my angry energy at because I was not a happy camper. After I had make breakfast (with plenty of time to spare) that I went to the main hall and sat down at the piano to play away some leftover anger until I could handle seeing the girls again.
After I had calmed down by making breakfast and playing piano I realized that there were so many things wrong with this situation. Why had I been so impatient? Why was sleep more important than the relationship with my kiddos? Why did I respond in this way? The impatience and anger that I had were not justified. Through this situation I was humbled and reminded about God’s grace. He was with me in that situation and he forgives me for the way I acted. Perhaps I wasn’t the only one who did something wrong, but nevertheless I still had to seek forgiveness.
God uses broken people for his glory. Even the people who are serving him make mistakes. He uses people like little, broken me for his work. This truth blows my mind. None of the leaders God has called has ever been perfect. It is because of his grace that we can serve. He invites us into his plan even though he doesn’t need us. Although this realization is not new to me, I was reminded of it during the sleepover. Even though my imperfections were very evident, the kids still learned a lot and had a great time.
Being back in England has been even more valuable and needed than I had expected. I had long needed to reconnect with my friends here. If I had only known a year and a half ago that some of my closest friends would come from this experience. One friend in particular I have become very close to, and without her I would not be the person I am today. Every time I see her she is challenging me, encouraging me, or just being my friend. I trust and value her more than she knows, and she taught me what real friendship looks like. I never knew I needed a friend like her until I had her. Over the past few weeks, I have constantly been thanking the Lord for putting her in my life. Being able to spend time with her while I’ve been back has been refreshing, encouraging, and so needed.
Please continue to pray for me as I serve in England. Pray that my time here would continue to teach and challenge me. I am leading a youth Bible Study in a few weeks, and would appreciate prayers for peace and guidance as I seek to teach the kiddos about God’s truths in a way that is relevant and impactful. Finally join me in praising the Lord for the time I have spent reconnecting with the people I love.