On the way to a Good News Club training a few years ago, I drove through a rather depressed area of town. I’ve been ministering in urban areas for more than eighteen years, and I have never seen a neighborhood in worse shape – abandoned, burned out houses, litter strewn everywhere – I was shocked! But I knew that there were children living in some of those abandoned-looking houses. I wondered how cold they were on that chilly Saturday morning. My eyes were opened again, not only to the physical needs of the children we minister to, but the spiritual needs as well. I felt hopeless just driving through that neighborhood; what must the children living there feel?

Sometimes in ministry I am tempted to be overwhelmed by the odds. But I know that God works through the teaching of His Word and He is in charge of the spiritual destiny of the children, not me. So I know the truth of these words from John Calvin:

“It behooves us to accomplish what God requires of us, even when we are in the greatest despair respecting the results.”

Even when I am challenged, wondering what kind of difference the ministry is making in the lives of children facing these overwhelming odds, I know that God can take our little bit, and make it much for the sake of His Kingdom, working in ways that I am not expecting and often don’t recognize.

I am reminded of the time when I was teaching a large group of rowdy, rambunctious children during a week-long 5-Day Club. Every day it seemed like their behavior only got worse, and I wondered if we had made any difference in their lives at all. On the last day, after most of the other children had gone home, a little girl approached me with a gift held in her hand. This little girl had hung out on the fringes of the group all week, remaining mostly silent when I had tried to engage her during club. I was surprised to see her, and even more surprised that she wanted to give me a gift. I was under the impression that she didn’t really like club (or me, to be perfectly honest). When I opened the gift, it was a paper rose. I’m not sure where she got it, but I assumed it was probably one of her own prized possessions that she was choosing to give to me. I was overcome with emotion. It was like a love letter from God to me.

Eighteen years later, I still have that rose as part of my prized possessions. It reminds me that God is working, even when we can see it, that He is constantly bringing new life, and that the beauty of His grace can be found even in the most worn down neighborhoods, or worn down hearts. Our job is simply not to underestimate Him.

~Jeanne Hulme, CEF of Missouri Inc., Greater St. Louis Area