Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Missionary (10/19/06)
TITLE: A Slight Change in Plans…
By Debbie Sickler
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Now here I was, twenty one years old, divorced and alone with a new infant to care for. Nowhere near the dreams of my youth. Things weren’t going according to my plans, but they were fitting into God’s plan perfectly.
Just before my son was born, his father agreed that I should be an at home mom. We both felt it was important to have one of us caring for the new baby full time. One problem with that plan was our apartment; there was no way we could afford it on one income.
We left the pristine community and lifestyle we’d grown accustomed to and signed a lease at a much less attractive, low-rent complex. Unbeknownst to me, my journey to a foreign land had begun.
For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by cultures I was unfamiliar with. Growing up in a primarily Hispanic town, I had never been exposed to much else. The sea of black faces surrounding me at my new home was the closest thing to Africa I’ve yet to experience.
While my husband was falling out of love with me, I was quickly falling in love with the numerous neglected children in my new community. I’d take my baby out to the playground area and be amazed at how many children would come up and talk to me. They spent their days outside, as parents too busy with their own problems and too tired to care, occasionally glanced out dusty windows.
These children were starving for attention. From me, a total stranger. From anyone. Anyone taking the time to notice them. My heart broke for them, the forgotten. God whispered a new plan in my ear.
I prayed uncertainly before contacting the apartment manager. She wasn’t a Christian as far as I knew, but she loved those kids as much as I did and agreed to my request at once. I now had free use of the recreation room.
A few phone conversations with my mom helped me finalize the details and the F.U.N. Club was born. F.U.N. stood for Fellowship Uniting Neighbors. Fellowship is exactly what these kids needed. Fellowship with someone who cared enough to share their time and God’s love with them. I had no experience. No skills or special talents that I knew of. Just a passion to spread God’s love to children in need of Him.
That first afternoon, I was rather nervous about beginning my new mission. I was also thankful to have my mom’s vacation coincide at the perfect time to help me get started. She helped dress me up in a ridiculous country clown costume, complete with wide brimmed straw hat and rosy cheeks, the idea being to draw the kids’ attention. We walked around the complex inviting kids to join us in the rec. room for some F.U.N. I felt like a complete idiot, but it worked.
Twenty five kids showed up that day.
I used my dad’s old shaggy dog puppet he’d used in his clown act when I was a kid. We sang children’s songs from a tape and played games. I bribed them with penny candy and invited them back for more F.U.N. club meetings for the rest of the summer.
Heading back home, I felt unsure of how the day had gone. Was I any good at this? Did the kids actually have fun and learn anything? Would anyone show up next time? I had no clue.
Full of self doubt, I prepared my Bible story to share at the next meeting anyway.
The next week as I was getting ready, there was a knock at my front door. I opened it and was greeted by three of the young girls who had come to the first meeting. They handed me a bouquet of flowers they’d picked and asked if I needed help carrying my things over for the club.
I was dumbfounded.
No, it wasn’t Africa or some other exotic locale, but it was a definite mission field. God had planted a dream in the heart of a young girl many years ago. Despite life getting in the way of my vision, He still fulfilled that dream. I knew I was a missionary at last.
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