St Tom's does a lot of work down in an area of Sheffield called Firvale with groups of Slovakian gypsies. Yesterday after church the opportunity came up to go down spend a couple of hours working with the some of the Slovakian children. My initial reaction was to decline, I'm usually so awkward round children and have no idea what to say or how to act in a way that is fun for them and no to ridiculous for me. But I really felt a gentle nudge from God to just put that reason aside (it isn't really a good enough reason to not do something, especially if you are doing it for God) so I resolved to go. I prayed about it on the way down and God really blessed the time we spend there. During this time of year most of the gypsies go back to Slovakia (the general pattern is that they are only here for the winter and then they return home for the summer months) so we thought that no-one would turn up at all and it was really hanging in the balance whether they would go down or not. But in the end they did and after hanging in the balance myself (I think I am using that phrase in context...) I decided to go down as well and just have faith that God would make me of use. In the end about 7 or 8 kids showed up which was a miracle considering we weren't expecting anyone to show up at all.
When we got down there, and the area is quite a bit different to the area we live in, a lot more police sirens going off and generally more run down (coming from Birmingham it wasn't too much of a shock). The church we met in was an old, large methodist church with one or two boarded up windows with holes from where thrown rocks had shattered the glass ("please let those be only be rock holes in the window" was my immediate thought). Anyway so that is a brief description of the area. Meeting the kids was amazing. Having never done kids work at church or anything I didn't really know what to expect but as soon as we just started playing ball with the kids and seeing them have a good time there were genuine moments where I would thrown back tears as I realized just how much Jesus loves these children and wants good things for them. My heart was so quickly overwhelmed with love for them myself that I couldn't help deciding that I wouldn't mind giving up more Sunday afternoons to this kind of work.
We spent some time playing different games with the kids and generally just having a good time. We took some time during the time to do a drama for them to show them about God's love for everyone and then played more games with them before finishing. The time there spent with these kids was amazing.
Ultimately, what urged me to go yesterday afternoon (along with the gentle nudge from from Spirit) was thinking on what was said at church in the morning. The sermon was about the last chapter of John (21) where Jesus talks to Peter about love for Christ, feeding, tending to and looking after His sheep and I was just reflecting on the importance for us to show love to people in our lives and if we claim to love Jesus then that necessarily means showing love to all of God's children as Jesus loves them. Yesterday was an open door for me to practice that and see just how much He loves and cares for all of us. I learned so much just by being there and my passion for people has just grown so much over the last day, I'm now considering more seriously volunteering at Soul Survivor and just helping out in whatever way they need for that week. Even my passion for China now has an added something something since yesterday afternoon. I can only think that God wanted me to learn something useful yesterday =]
Peace and Blessings everyone.
Peace and Blessings everyone.
[btw. after listening through the Stephen the Levite album a few more times I've come to flippin' love it. great album]