A couple of years ago I was talking to Peter Furler. He had come to Guatemala with an organization called Lifelight to do a concert. He is an avid motorcyclist and so he and several members of the band rented motorcycles to tour a little of the beautiful countryside. They were riding up and down mountains on highways on motorcycles much smaller than anything I would feel comfortable on even on Illinois flat roads. He normally rides a BMW or at least that is what I see him on in pictures. Bigger motorcycles do present their own challenges but I never feel safe if having power to escape a situation is not an option. I commented on that and he told me that you have to bloom where you are planted. In other words, you cannot change every circumstance but you can choose to grow wherever you are and in whatever situation you find yourself. You attitude is a choice.
I have been involved in the Christian Youth Center of Morris since it began. It is a ministry that is close to my heart and always will be. I miss it and especially the kids when I am away from them. When I come back to Illinois I always spend whatever time I can there with the kids. I love it but I must admit that it is changing. The kids that I have known for many years are getting older. Many of them have stopped coming because they are out of school, moved away or left for other reasons. Now I often feel like I barely know most of them. Even those I know I wind up getting names wrong. It is an awkward situation. Sometimes I think it would be easier to just not bother and I wonder if it would really matter.
Over the years I have worked with hundreds, maybe thousands of kids in this ministry. Many left a lasting impression. Some because they were so involved and were an encouragement to me in the way they chose to pursue God. Unfortunately there were others that left the lasting impression for different reasons. They came but they chose to live life on their terms. They were angry, hurting, self destructive young people. They could not allow themselves to feel love or compassion from anyone because their trust had been betrayed too many times. They were wounded and nobody was going to break through the walls they put up. No matter how often they were told and shown that they were loved, they could not receive it. I watched countless leaders try to break through their tough shells but they would not open up because they thought that they were being set up. Their lives to that point had told them that was all they could expect. Their was no such thing as selfless love. People only wanted to get close because they wanted something from them. It was heartbreaking to see how deeply they hurt and how much their trust had been violated.
I have thought about many of these kids over the years. Occasionally I will see something about them or be reminded of them. Sometimes this prompts me to pray for them. Occasionally I will see something on Facebook or hear something from one of their friends and it will encourage me. There is one that came to CYC for a couple of years and I know that they struggled with some things. I did not know how to help but I tried to be there when needed. I realized that they needed more than I could do but still wanted to help when I could.
A few months ago I saw a post on Facebook and I realized that God had intervened in their live and things were changing. Since then I have seen many other posts and realize that God has a plan for each of these kids and we may not ever see fruit from it. We may never know how He reached them and did what we could not but we need to keep praying for them. I do not know if the time at CYC had any part to play in their decision to follow Jesus. We need to keep making ourselves available to wounded, hurting kids, even though it can be painful or frustrating. We need to live beyond our understanding and share love and truth with them as often as possible. Holy Spirit is the one that is leading them to their Father. Our job is to be available when we can.
I do not know how every kids story will turn out. I do not know what percentage of these wounded, confused kids will look to Jesus for the answers in their lives. I do not know what will happen. I can just choose to bloom where I am planted. Let God use me however He wants today. I can choose to let Him redeem my time whether in Morris or Guatemala. I can remind myself that God's timing and mine are not always the same and I can continue to pray for those that have crossed my path over they years. Jesus loves each of them more than I ever could. He is at work on their behalf. Lastly, I can be His hands and feet to demonstrate His love wherever He places me today.