Leader's Log & Testimony (An MCS DR Recap)
53 students (minus 3 who couldn’t be with us for the trip).
This picture captures the end of 10 days in the Dominican Republic. It also captures the half-way point of the Bible College story. Feels like I just met them, this group of leader. In some ways I kind of did…
In a youth group the moment you get to around 20 kids it’s hard to know them all. You have jokes with some, headnods with others and still some, a smile. There are unifying times like trips and such where you may bond but it’s tough. At work, I’m meeting them while still in relationship with the students before them, which makes for getting to know all 53 quite hard. Yet on this trip, it’s just us and there’s time. Time to watch their stories unfold. Time to see them laugh with each other or cry because of each other. Time to watch them meet a challenge head on or to let it crush them. Time to hear them own their story or find shame in it. Time to give them nicknames or to receive one from them.
That picture is different from this one at the beginning of the year. In this one, they don’t know each other yet. Excitement is high and tensions are somewhat low. In this picture, they don’t know that 5 of them won’t make it past December for different reasons. They don’t know that school will be harder than they thought. They don’t know that their president can hold a megaton guardrail with one hand above his head or that their First Year Pastor would raise the bar for them to sometimes unfair expectations. Here? They are just babies excited for the future.
And in the first pic? They know that stuff now. They know all of it. These are leaders who have pushed through the mud of life, the pain of sacrifice and have earned every smile. These are leaders who picked up garbage from filth that looked like an oil spill on an American coast. These are leaders who learned language as they went along, prayed tough and got through.
They aren’t perfect. They still can lean on immaturity at the wrong time. They can still have “opinions that they haven’t earned yet”. They can still move a little slow when they should move fast or try to outlead each other when they are frustrated. But every leader does this too. They are learning leaders. Learning from each other and older mentors on how to lead and to do the wise thing. You can't beat that, man.
I don’t know if in September 2015 I’ll see them all. Some I will for sure. Others? Not beyond a Facebook pic and an on campus visit. That saddens me some, because the potential for these leaders is quite great. These girls here in this pic can out pastor and out lead some of our “flashy” young men currently in posts if given a fair shake (Not dissing my ministry peers but I think the old boys thought of girls can’t cut it is getting smashed quickly). And our guys are at their level too, which will make hiring fun in a few years. Regardless of where they end up, they’ll lead somewhere for sure. It’s on their faces. It’s in their hearts. These are servants over stars, for real. Unique stories used to glorify God. People who love to serve and not get credit for it.
On our last day in the Dominican, we had an intense prayer time led by their professor Graham Gibson. His prayer was that God would keep them. I walked around them all and the scripture of Psalm 121:3 continued to travel from my lips into the atmosphere
“He will keep you from stumbling…he will keep your feet from stumbling…” I didn’t cry while saying it, which surprised me. Instead I was confident and hopeful. I still am.
And again so I pray that God keeps them. That they finish strong and honor the one that called them before their birth. That they remain whole and strive for healthy lives. That they don’t bottom feed in the relationship department but instead attach themselves to people as great as their calls are. That they’d grow in maturity and stature and rely on Christ and not their talents or their insecurities. That they continue to serve hard, remaining team oriented and somewhat drama free.
Stay in it, Team Avodah (aka the only MCS class with a HEBREW name). Remember the apron. Remember that you’re better together than apart. Remember Champ.
Remember where your help comes from and who will carry you through.
Uno mas. Rabadoo.