I love when students come to check out our programs for the first time. So far this year we've had Bon-Fires, Twister, Root Beer Float nights, lots of Game Nights, Limbo, Gingerbread House making and Bingo, just naming a few. There is a lot of activity and laughter; these are some of my favorite times of ministry. Being able to witness kids enjoying themselves and having fun is one of my greatest joys in ministry. But by far, the greatest fulfillment for me is in the moments that come afterward in the unplanned times. These aren't the moments that I've planned in advance for but the stage has been set for them to occur.
I'll be cleaning up after an event and there will be all kinds of things to clean up in order to get the room back to being "livable." One or two students are hanging around helping out and inevitably one will say something like "Hey have you ever thought about..." or "How will I know if..." and the conversation will go from there usually developing a life of its own as it goes. Last night it began as "I'm not really into religion but I'm always open to new ideas." It's a sort of testing of the waters to see what my reaction will be. We're building trust with one another before we get any deeper.
These aren't huge profound moments for the most part but they usually lead to further conversations down the road. Many times the continued conversation will begin with "Hey, do you have a minute to talk with me about something?" That question inevitably comes as I'm headed out the door late for something or already staring at a full schedule. These usually are the conversations where we begin to share things that maybe have never been shared with anyone else...ever.
I pray that I'll never be too busy to hear the hearts of students and continue to recognize those moments as opportunities from God.