Guest Post: Megan Hutchinson: Megan is a 20 year youth ministry veteran, author of Secret Survivors, co-author of Life Hurts, God Heals, and the Lead Associate for Slingshotgroup.org (which finds/places youth workers in churches nationwide.
“Do you have a dollar ma’am?” The tattered blonde-haired, blue-eyed kid asked me as my own five-year old and I passed by the cereal section at Ralphs. I did a double take. “Excuse me?”
“Do you have dollar…please?”
I let out a sigh as thoughts ran rapidly through my mind. It was 10:00am on a school day. This teen was no older than 14…if that. He was as cute as can be under the dirt on his warn, sleepless face. And he was in need of a buck.
“Hi” I said extending my hand, “I’m Megan, and this cute thing is Parker, my son.” We both smiled. “What’s your name?” He started to scurry away. “I’m not here to get you into trouble!” He stopped, turned and studied me. “I’m Jack.”
“Good to meet you, Jack. I love your name…that’s the name of my other son! Are you hungry? Is that why you need the money?” His head nodded up and down. “Okay. There is a restaurant right over there. I’ll pay your bill.” As we started walking I asked him if he ditched school. He blurted out a confident “yes.” Then something nudged me to dig deeper. “Are you living at home?” He quickly said, “NOPE. My mom called the cops on me for something I didn’t do and if I go back home, I’m going to juvi (juvenile hall).”
As tears were on the verge of spilling over, I said, “I’m sorry. You sound so sad and angry and lost and alone. And I now understand why you stopped me.” He looked at me confused.
I looked into his eyes, “I love teenagers and I especially love ones like you… and your life is no accident. In fact, I believe God knows you by name and is seeking after you.” I could tell, those words were like ointment to his deep-seeded wounds.
Just then, two of his buddies walked toward him. He really started squirming now. As we were walking toward each other he whispered to me that they made a bet to see which one could get money for food. I laughed outloud! I walked right up to his buddies and boldly said (as if to defend my new young friend), “Hi, my name is Megan and Jack here tells me you’re hungry. Let’s all eat. I’ll pay.” We walked to the nearby fast food joint and as we awaited their greasy hamburgers and fries, I prayed silently.
My son, Parker was getting restless and started climbing the walls by now. “I have to go you guys. But it’s pretty obvious to me that you’re ditching school and probably have it tough at home, right?” They nodded in unison. “I am so sorry for whatever has happened, whether that was something you did or something someone did to you. But I know God well. And He created you and is keeping his eye upon you day and night. He will never leave you. And for what it’s worth, I think our meeting today was no accident. Maybe, just maybe it was God’s way of reminding each of you that He is pursuing you–and even loves you–although that might be hard to understand. I hope to see you again. It was really good to meet you.” I had to go.
I can’t help but think of Jesus’ way of doing church in the first century. Yes, there were the synagogues where folks met for the reading of scriptures and prayer. But the church was so much broader than those walls. THE CHURCH WAS EVERYWHERE JESUS AND THE DISCIPLES WENT: a neighbor’s home, the Sea, a water well, the city streets, the local supermarket…
When it comes to ministry (youth ministry in this particular story) there are a thousand Jacks’ right outside our door… which begs the question, “Should our ministry be spent less in a church office and more about our neighborhood, at places like the grocery store?”
Blow-up games, all-nighters, and fancy outreach events are awesome, but take refuge in the fact that you don’t have always need to be coming up with the next best thing to be effective. Jesus met people’s most immediate needs. Sometimes a kid just needs a burger from someone who cares and likes teenagers.
What if we created enough space in our roles (or the roles of our staff members if you’re a decision maker) to SEE where God might want to plant His seed through us today? Christ lives in us, which means WE are the Church, right? Everywhere we go, regardless of walls, we RE-present the seed of Jesus Christ. And to a young 14-year old named Jack, who is somewhere out there in the world today, I believe an unforgettable seed was planted.
Where will God allow you to plant His seed today? The opportunities are endless if we create the space to see them.
Question: what do you think about this idea? I’d love to know. Share your thoughts here.