May 1, 2008
“Dear God, thank you for World Impact and thank you for letting us come up here today,” prayed a seven-year-old girl on the first day of our annual Spring Break Program, a girl that is the youngest of a very devout Jehovah’s Witness family. What a simple yet beautiful prayer.
Every year we offer a Spring Break Program for the children and junior high youth in our community. This year they were taught about prayer through different aspects of the Lord’s Prayer. For eight hours a day, youth in our community participated in Bible lessons, games and electives, which were led by our staff and college students from Denton, Texas. The college students were a huge blessing, as we could not run as extensive a program without their partnering with us to serve these youth.
My (Andrew) “project” for the week was an eleven-year-old boy named Darius. He is one of three brothers to the seven-year-old girl from the Jehovah’s Witness family. He has ADHD and is full of energy. Darius is the type of kid that will wait until he has everyone’s attention and then will ask the most outrageous question just to shock everyone in the room. He loves to push people’s buttons—especially his brothers’ and sister’s. On the second day of the program, Darius was having a more difficult day than usual and finally made enough poor decisions that we had to send him home (which meant he could not come back the following day either). At the end of the day, he and his father were ringing our doorbell at World Impact. I have a good relationship with his father and this was not the first time we have had to discuss discipline issues.
Darius’ father asked what was going on. I informed him about the choices Darius made during the program that day. He told me that he was going to punish him by not letting him come back that week. I told him that I respected his choice and the final decision was up to him, but I made sure to tell him that we would love to have Darius back on Thursday. Darius was standing right by us and heard the entire conversation. I know that Darius heard the unconditional love that Christ has given each of us through our desire to have him return, and the next day, Darius came up to the program just to say hello. I made sure to let him know that we missed him and that we hoped to see him the following day. Sadly, redemptive discipline is often lacking in our community. In its place, youth often receive punishment that never gives them the opportunity to make the situation better by redeeming their actions and learning correct behavior. Our discipline system is meant to be redemptive and to point them to Christ!
The next day Darius came back but soon started back at his old ways. I knew he needed a little extra attention. Every day Darius was in the basketball elective where he learned basketball techniques. He has shot the ball incorrectly many years and the leaders and I were focusing on helping him correct his old habits. After 30 straight minutes of Darius and I working on his technique, he looked at me and said, “there is no coach that would even spend this much time with me.” And, as Darius’ basketball techniques slowly improved with careful guidance, his behavior also showed small signs of improvement.
At the closing program at the end of the week, Darius’ father came up to me and said thanks for all that we do for his family. Spending time with people and showing Christ’s redemptive grace to people who might have never experienced it are two of the reasons Adria and I are here. Thank you for praying for us and partnering with us financially to make a difference in our community.
All for our King, Andrew & Adria Medlen