Be a Gift of Grace

Still
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When I was a child about 5 years old, I would go to my grandfather’s small Baptist church. I remember being able to greet everyone in the church and savor the expression “That the pastor’s granddaughter.” I felt secure, protected, and special. In the course of life things drastically changed, and I lost that realm of security.

Later my family moved to New Jersey, and in many ways I developed a victim mentality. For several years I thought I had disappointed God and was being punished. I felt stuck in quicksand, waiting to suffocate and die.

Then one day I was invited to Northside Community Chapel down the hill from where I lived. It was there someone saw something special in this 11-year-old and came alongside to mentor, coach, and support me.

Today as I walk the streets of the city, I see many young people in groups with no sense of purpose or hope, just existing. I see elementary youths going through the motions of school with no enthusiasm. Teens spend more time out of school than in. Young adults are searching but don’t know what they’re looking for.

There are no heroes. Gangs, drugs, sex, and violence run rampant not only physically but also mentally and spiritually. We allow the media to consistently report life as negative and deceptive. Technology promotes the destructive mind rather than the creative. All these things and more become overwhelming obstacles to grace.

 So many of today’s youths feel incomplete and uninvited to be a part of the body of Christ. Who will tell them of their worth?

I want to share how God is developing our youths. We’ve started a new season for ministry in which everyone is encouraged to sign up. Young and old have the opportunity to make a yearlong commitment to learn, grow, and be used in a ministry.

One of the amazing things that happened is that our youths not only signed up as students of ministry but also as leaders. Some of them asked if they could be involved with fund-raising. We now have a fund-raising committee of 8- to 10-year-olds. No adults signed up for this task. Because we value our youths, we will use them. It means more work on my part, but I remember how God used others to see something special in me.

If we want to see new life in the church, we need to allow God to use us to do the impossible. Will you be an obstacle to grace or God’s gift of grace?

About the Author

Rev. Sheila Holmes is pastor of Northside Community Christian Reformed Church, Paterson, N.J.

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