Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thursday Mornings Are Hard ... Because Wednesday Nights Are Amazing

I love working with Awana (as I have written about before). I love getting to know the kids and their families (which admittedly has gotten exponentially harder as our club has grown). I love seeing kids learn Scripture that will guide them their entire lives. Most of all, I love knowing that with at least this one part of my life, I am doing exactly what God has called me to do.

A recent Wednesday reinforced my passion. It was a truly awesome example of how God orchestrates things far beyond my understanding to accomplish His Will. I and my Awana leadership team had planned this date as "snow day" during our planning session last August. We had some ideas in mind from previous years, but hadn't yet figured out logistics - we knew what worked with 25-30 kids would not work with the much larger group God has blessed us with this year.

Last week, Tammy “Ice Cream Lady” Myers from The Big Drip offered the use of her snow cone trailer to make “snow.” One piece of the puzzle.

Then Wednesday morning a cold front blew in like a bad omen. The temperature literally dropped 20 degrees in the time it took to walk my kids to the bus stop and return home. By mid-morning it was 40 degrees, rainy, cloudy, windy, and gloomy. In short, it seemed a pretty poor day to be playing in ice. The forecast called for the front to pass by mid-afternoon, but still I worried all day about our decision to go ahead with snow day as planned.

Then right at 6:30 as the club began, the weather turned spectacularly perfect! It dried up, the sun came out, the wind stopped, and it was cool enough to keep the snow frozen without being unpleasant. Tammy’s ice shaver put out perfect snow for making snowmen and snowballs. The kids enjoyed snow cones and snow bowling, which (imagine that) quickly devolved into a snowball fight between the leaders and kids. On top of that, we had by a wide margin the most kids I have ever seen at an Awana night in Dripping Springs. In all my years working in Awana, this turned into one of the most exciting nights!

Pastor Craig Curry challenged the T&Ters to “Stump the Pastor” with their questions, and they tried with gusto. Then some of them caught an idea and turned the tables. They started quizzing him on verses they had already memorized in Awana! Imagine their delight to stump the pastor from Scripture (even a pastor doesn’t usually have the entire Bible committed to memory).

He (and I) was amazed at the kids’ capacity for learning God’s Word … though we shouldn’t be. That’s precisely why we do Awana. A Baylor University study a few years ago documented that while well over half of all church-going teens abandon church once they graduate from high school and are no longer under their parents wings, 93% of those that grew up in Awana continue to attend church, and to serve in ministry, as adults. The hour and a half we invest in children each Wednesday has an effect far beyond what we can see today.

Leading an Awana club is exhausting, but is also rewarding beyond my wildest dreams. To watch the light turn on when a child suddenly understands a piece of God’s Word is an indescribable feeling. I hear the same thing from many on my team: we may be tired before the night even begins, but there is an incredible spark that comes from seeing the kids' enthusiasm over the Bible.

I'll often find myself still awake near midnight Wednesday night, because I am still wired from the literal high I get in running an Awana club. And you know what? This is a high that is available to anyone willing to serve. With something approaching 20,000 Awana clubs in over 100 countries serving 2 million children around the world, there is bound to be an Awana club near you. Look them up, and see how you can make an eternal difference in a child's life (subject, of course, to each individual club's volunteer and child protection policies, an unfortunate reality in our broken world).

Do you have something to add? A question you'd like answered? Think I'm out of my mind? Join the conversation below, reach out by email at david (at) securityforrealpeople.com, or hit me up on Twitter at @dnlongen