As a Children’s Minister I often have the thoughts: Am I really reaching these kids? Is what I am doing sticking? Are they really listening to me or are they just day dreaming? Are they bored? Do they love Jesus? Do they know what it means to accept Christ as their Savior? I often think these thoughts when after I finish speaking, a child will say something completely off the subject and so random! Did you not just hear what I said? Do you know what Bible story we are learning today? I have to laugh and just move on. Kids are kids. Random thoughts blurt out whenever. But I still wonder: Am I making a difference in their lives?
When I ask myself these questions, I think back to the people in my childhood who had an impact on my life. I grew up going to West Rome United Methodist Church in Rome, GA. It was a smaller church, nothing extremely big, but there were many people there who impacted my life greatly.
Last night I had a dream and the only thing I remembered from it was a couple who made a big difference in my life. Ron and Rana Gwin. Mr & Mrs. Gwin and their 2 children (Jeromy and Julie) were active members of our church. I remember Mrs. Gwin was my 1st grade Sunday School teacher, my VBS teacher, and I as I grew older, she and Mr. Gwin were our Youth Coordinators. We had many Youth Directors over the 7 years I was in the Youth Group. It seemed like there was one every year. The only people who never left us was Mr. & Mrs. Gwin. They were invested in the lives of our small youth group. They loved us like we were their own children. They taught us about Jesus and how much he loved us. They also had beautiful voices and I always loved hearing them sing in church. I can remember my first trip in the youth group was to Panama City Beach. We stayed at the Summit condos and they were there. (I also remember that our condo was next to Spinnaker’s and the singer that week was Sir Mix-A-Lot. We all thought that was cool – Talk about random thoughts……). They took us to see Carmen in concert (anyone remember him?). They took us ice skating at Stone Mountain, and to the Yellow River Game Ranch. My favorite memories, though, were from their home. They always opened up their home to us for youth group parties. I loved their home! So much fun hanging with my friends, jumping on their trampoline, and doing Bible studies.
In my dream last night, though, I told them about how special they were to me. I wanted them to know what a difference they made in my life as a child/teenager and how they helped shaped me into the person I am today, just by the simple act of loving me and caring enough about my spiritual life. Thank you so much Mr. and Mrs. Gwin! I hope you know that you were special to all of us at West Rome UMC!
Others I remember that also had an impact in my life from West Rome were Pat and Eddie Rivers (2 wonderful Godparents who love us like we are their own children and they were like my 2nd parents), Gail Blanton (teacher and Children’s Ministry Coordinator who worked hard at planning programs for the kids), Ann Summersill (dear friend of my Mom who always did so much for us), Fran Kirtland (another dear friend of my Mom), Don Raley (my Jr. High Sunday School teacher who always made us laugh), Judy Hicks (my 5th Grade Sunday school teacher who helped us memorize Bible verses), Tony Waters (my high school Sunday school teacher), Jean Jones (2nd Grade teacher who always gave us prizes for attendance – if you are Methodist you might remember that yellow smiley face that was on everything), Randall and Linda Brown (my friend Valerie’s parents), Roselle and Tommy Lyons (my friend, Allan’s mother and stepfather – Roselle could really play that organ and piano so beautifully), Johnny and Barbara Davis (Johnny always made us laugh), Mr. and Mrs. Jernigan (an older couple who went on trips with us some), Patrick Lane and Jason Smith (2 Youth Directors while I was there). The 2 pastors that impacted my life when I was there were Charles Thomas and Doug Thrasher. Two wonderful men who helped guide me on my spiritual journey. I went through confirmation with Charles and remember that through him I accepted Christ as my Savior. My parents and grandparents and sisters also helped shape me and l’ll always remember their love and wise words and guidance on my spiritual journey.
As I look back and remember these people, I can answer my own questions. Yes, I am making a difference in the lives of these kids. Yes, they are listening. Yes, they know that Jesus loves them and is their Savior. Yes, they know that I love them too. Why? Because I see the impact others have made on me. I’m sure there were times that I didn’t listen either and I said some pretty random things, but these people at church planted seeds in my life, they helped shape me into a Christian woman who is now serving in the ministry.
Are you making a difference as a Children’s Minister? YES!!!!!!!! You are planting the seeds and even if you don’t see them come to harvest, your work is not in vain!!!! God is using you to shape the lives of the children in your church and community. Don’t give up! God is at work in their lives through you. Know that you play a VERY important role in their lives. Remember those who impacted your life and if you can, tell them! As Paul would say, ”Press On”. Go and do what God has called you to do and make a difference in the life of a child.