When you are a missionary at Kidz Camp on the Southwest Ohio District, you hear a lot of funny stuff. My favorite quote this week came from a little dude who was probably 8. We found him sitting, slouched over with a grumpy face by a light pole. I thought his world had come to an end. He was missing his mom and his friends were teasing him? Or maybe, he was in trouble with the counselor? Or maybe, his dog Pinkie just died?
We asked, ‘Hey Dude, are you okay?’ as we walked by.
‘No,’ he grunted and then hugged his arms around his little chest.
‘What’s wrong?‘ in my best ‘mom’ voice.
‘That girl over there likes me.’ Came the disgruntled reply.
Ahhhh, trouble in paradise, indeed. If only he knew that SWO Kidz Camp was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to girl problems. Our hearts go out to ya, Little Dude.
There is a lot of pessimism out there for this kid’s age group, called ‘Generation Y’, and the generation a little older, the ‘Millenial Generation’. What with their iPods and connectedness and Snap Chat frenzy, a lot of people believe that the Selfie Generations have little to offer.
Outside of North America, these generational tags are rarely used and the defining and characterizing of ages into named and charaterized boxes is also quite an ‘American’ thing. But, people everywhere still like to talk about and often criticize ‘those young people.’ Perhaps, a bi-product of Western cultures is a tendency to silo people into categories.
Churches have teen groups, Senior Adults have Prime Timers, and then there is Kids’ Sunday School, with its flurry of activity. There is something for every generation, but the something is rarely a ‘together’ activity. We tend to plan our church events according to age-appropriate, age-restrictive lines. When this becomes the norm, it may be that we forfeit our ability to appreciate and exist in the beauty of the Body in its diversity.
Here at Southwest Ohio Kidz Camp, we have been watching adults pour into the lives of 200+ kids and it is nothing short of heroic. We are witnessing a group of men and women, many of whom have taken a week of vacation from work, shepherd active, sweaty, energized, sugar-charged pre-teen kids through a series of daily events meant to tire the body and feed the soul. In the process, the buzz quiets to hear Jesus and they rush the altar to respond to his voice. There is a fantastic beauty, purity, and simplicity in their child-like interaction to the voice of God in their souls.
When was the last time that we, as adults, took God at his word like that?
When was the last time we danced in worship so our bodies could quiet down and hear Jesus speak?
The intentional coming together of generations, genders, and races is never easy, never fluid, it is rarely comfortable, but this is the true picture of the Body of Christ. We are never more alone than when we silo ourselves into homogenous units of people.
Part of our role as missionaries on Home Assignment is to create awareness of other cultures and issues and to tell the story – the story of what God is doing. Why? Because we have a tendency, as humans, to think about our own needs and persepectives to the exclusion of others. In some ways, we tend to forget that we share this planet with the rest of the world.
Just as girl problems are a reality for every age of life, so to, is the sharing of the sandbox more than a kid problem. Our world needs a peek into the kingdom today and maybe we do too.
Did Jesus mention something about childlike faith?
As for girls problems, Little Dude, we hear you, but we have bad news: It just goes downhill from here … for a while. Shakespeare himself said, ‘the course of true love never did run smooth.’ But, eventually you learn the rythms of unity, of shared passion, of relinquishing ‘me’ for ‘us’. That is the Gospel, isn’t it? No greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for a friend.
That man was Jesus.