Before working at the Christian Life Center at Shades, I would have probably told you that I didn't like working with kids. I now have almost 4 years of experience working with kids and I haven't regretted a single moment. I know that this is where God wanted me to be, which is extremely evident when I think back to how I got the job that first summer in 2011. I had seen the announcement to apply for Kids Kamp in the church bulletin, but I was hoping to get a summer job back home and didn't think twice about applying for camp. The deadline passed, but I eventually got a call from the Camp Coordinator who offered me the job because someone had referred me to her. I didn't think much of it then, but now I can see that God had a plan for me to work with the kids at the CLC because I didn't even apply and I got the job. I thank God for His divine sovereignty in that situation.
"I can't help but see each child as someone who is special in God's eyes and who needs to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
My first summer was a huge learning experience. I did not understand the intricacies involved in disciplining well and I was even a little shy and self-conscious about my actions that summer. I am pretty sure that you would not say that about me now in my interactions with the kids, since I am usually pretty silly around them. Working with the kids has helped me learn how to discipline with grace and out of love, and also to come out of my shell by being my natural, goofy self. I still have a lot to learn about taking care of kids, but Kids Kamp and After the Bell have definitely helped me to appreciate the important jobs that parents have in raising their kids. I love discipleship and what it means in the church, and I am so thankful that God has given me an opportunity to pour into young hearts that are growing up in a sinful world with many challenges. The words of Proverbs 22:6 couldn't be more relevant in this situation: "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."
Aside from training in parenthood, my job at the CLC has also helped me grow spiritually as I continue to walk with the Lord. I will admit, and parents will probably agree, that it is sometimes hard to show grace when your patience is running short. Kids will definitely test your patience, and I have seen how God has used that to develop mine and to show me areas where I am lacking in grace and forgiveness. Likewise, being in charge of the kids helps me see how God treats me when I sin. God has new mercies for me every day, which has taught me that I can always show grace and love even while I'm teaching about consequences for not following the rules. We are constantly being sanctified through the work of the Holy Spirit, and God consistently teaches me that kids are also imperfect beings that need loving correction and rebuke. God loves each and every kid, and I have come to love these kiddos as well.
Maybe the biggest change that I have seen since working at the CLC is my desire to work with kids and my passion for kids. The camp counselors always joke about having a heightened awareness of children after working at Kids Kamp. Now I can't help but see each child as someone who is special in God's eyes and who needs to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe that one of the reasons God allowed me to work at the CLC is to give me a heart for working with kids. I have now incorporated that desire into my future career goals, wherever that might be. God has used Kids Kamp and After the Bell to reveal how my spiritual gifts can be used in my job with kids, and how my experiences can be used in the future to fulfill the Great Commission! I will be forever grateful for the opportunity that I have had to work at the CLC, and I hope that I can continue to use what I have learned for the kingdom of God here on earth.