So what is the best way to use a weekend off from work? Why, invite 9 youths over to stay at my house, of course, from Friday evening until after Sunday morning church. Instead of relaxing, hanging out with my wife, or completely the plethora of work I could be doing, I volunteered to be a host home for Fusion. Why, you ask. Why did you do something that insane? Because those 9 kids really need it.
I started the weekend planning. I was off for several days leading into the weekend and I was going to be ready. I was not only the host home, but I was playing the role of small group leader as well. In previous years I had been unprepared and I ended up exhausted afterwards, sleeping all Sunday afternoon. First thing, first, food. An army runs on its stomach, and with teenage boys this was certainly true. i had to plan the menu. I over planned, bought more than I needed, and still ended up with empty bags and empty refrigerator. As every good small group leader knows, when you don't know the answer to a question, it's time for dessert!
Food taken care of (with the intrepid assistance of my wife) I dove into the lessons. I read the lessons and the scriptures associated with them. I knew what I was going to say and how I would answer questions. I was starting to feel prepared. I was confident and ready.
Then it was Friday night. The students started to arrive. I told them where to put their sleeping stuff. I started chilling and speaking with them. i asked them questions. About their hobbies, sports, school, and girls. I gauged their moods. They were excited. Buzzing. So was I.
That night was the first of three worship and sermon sessions. The band was rocking. The kids were jazzed about the new Blount County Campus, having never before been there. Matt and Michael, our own personal Hardy boys, set the stage and harnessed the excitement, priming the students like the pros they are. The kids were almost foaming at the mouth. Then the guest speaker spoke. You should have seen the students. I did. I was watching them lean forward as he spoke. As he shared his experience with the Birmingham SWAT team, the kids were hooked. The story was so vivid, the kids were just there. Afterwards, my guys were declaring that they would have decimated the SWAT team. The rush was on.
The kids stayed up all night. I am an old man and went to sleep at midnight. I slept for 7 hours before getting up. i did the same the next night and slept 8 1/2 hours. this is a survival tip for you leaders. I gave the kids instructions, told them to not leave my house, and went to sleep. I felt like a champ the entire weekend. I can not stress enough the importance of a well rested leader. Less dead children that way.
I think the biggest moment for me personally was the last night's worship. It felt like we had been at summer camp for a week. God was definitely in the house. I have not been that refreshed in a long time. At the end, the students were instructed to write, what was holding them back from serving God with a whole heart, in a box of sand. Then they should wipe it away. I felt God touching my heart. No it couldn't be. This was for the kids, right? God showed me what I needed to write. I knelt by the box of sand and wrote. Then I wiped it away. I felt clean and whole. I was free of that thing. God did that for me. Please get this. It was not just for the students. It is for the leaders also.
For my boys, the time was the last night's small group discussion. I just asked a simple question. What did you learn from this weekend? What lesson did you take away? What I heard blew me away. The boys opened like a flower blooming. Light bulbs switched on. Students had listened and better yet, applied. I loved it! There is nothing more awesome than watching God at work!
The next afternoon, after the kids were gone. My phone was exploding with texts. The guys were texting me for advice. They wanted to know how to change their lives to serve God better. I was in awe. All I had done was plan some meals and read some prewritten lessons. The work I put in did not measure up to the results. But God had known the entire time. He had seen the condition of my guys hearts and he knew what they needed to hear.
So why did I give up my home and my weekend for Fusion? Because God used it to change lives. I witnessed it first hand. These kids need you.
So maybe God is asking you to serve somewhere and you are resisting. Give up now and watch God at work. It just never gets better than this.