Where do I even start?
Maybe it’s when we got about an hour outside of Panama City and we started seeing trees bent
and broken. Maybe it’s when we noticed caravans of utility trucks, military vehicles, emergency
services all driving into the panhandle. Maybe it’s when we started to get closer and saw just
how huge and devastating Michael really was. Or maybe it’s when we got into Panama City and
with our own eyes witnessed the destructive power of mother nature.
I think I’ll start with the first house we drove to. The older man’s house wasn’t in too bad of
shape. He had men already there working to tarp his roof and tractors removing fallen trees
from his yard. The house directly across the street was obliterated; as if someone had
detonated a bomb inside. Debris from the house was everywhere. But sitting in the living room
was the family’s furniture.
The older gentleman we came to see was sitting on his porch staring in the direction of the
tractor but not really seeing it. His thoughts seemed far away. When we came up to him he was
startled and start writing our info on a piece of paper. He took out a crumpled piece of paper
and wrote down our names saying if he didn’t he wouldn’t remember who we were. We were
able to give him two containers full of gas and he exploded with joy. His cry startled me.
We moved on to the next house and understood that we were going to have to do some real
work. We talked with the gentleman that lived there and proceeded to chainsaw several large
trees that blocked his house. He had family close by so he was blessed enough to have a cool
place to sleep. We cleared as much as we could and headed to the next stop.
We delivered tarps and water to others and our last stop we made the biggest impact. It was an
older couple whose home was almost completely barricaded in. They had a small pop up in the
back yard they were sleeping in. When they heard why we were there he yelled out loud
“THANK YOU”! His girlfriend finally came out and thanked us.
So we got to work.
2 hours later we had cleared his yard and his neighbors. As we started packing up she came out
in tears. She thanked us over and over again. Calling us angels sent from heaven. Such a small
thing was everything to them.
It was one of those moments that is burned in my memory forever.
It’s also one of those moments that I want to share with my children. I want them, at an
appropriate level, to understand that life isn’t always fair; that a lot of times bad things happen
to good people. I want them to see how, when disaster strikes or when the enemy uses our
circumstances against us, God shows up and shows off.
But maybe most importantly I want them to see how God chooses do it through us. So here are
a few ways to help our kids see how they are the hands and feet of Jesus.
Serve at Any Age
Your kids can serve at any age! Don’t underestimate your little ones or your “lazy” teens.
People yearn to make a difference, even the ones that roll their eyes at your suggestion. Give
them opportunities to serve in the city and in the church.
Kids are kids. Doesn’t matter what generation. Most kids will never choose to do work on their
own. But once they get in there and see how they are making a difference a light will come on.
Little one’s love helping mommy or daddy. So let them. It may take longer to get the job done
but the life lesson learned far outweighs any small inconvenience.
Older kids may not love helping so much…initially. But don’t allow their hesitancy to stop you.
Put them in a place where they can succeed. If your child is super shy don’t make them speak to
strangers as part of their service. That will just frustrate them and curtail any future service
chances. Have them do things that are in their sweet spot and watch them knock it out of the
Serve with Them
Don’t just give them a place to serve and walk or drive off. Get in there and serve with them.
Shift has little ones that help fill the communion cups before services start. I’ve watch, multiple
times, moms and dads showing their kids how to fill the cups and then watch them do it. They
are serving together!
My daughter traveled with me into St. Louis, MO many times to help feed the homeless. She is
one of the helper/teachers in Treehouse Kidz. She’s awesome at it too. She helps me set up for
Second Shift (our student ministry). I love getting to serve with her. And I love watching God
use her talents to teach others about Him.
Serve with your kids and you’ll find that your relationship will deepen. You’ll form bonds with
your kids that you didn’t have before. You’ll show them that following Jesus is so much more
than one hour on Sunday morning. You’ll gift them with a faith that extends far beyond the
walls of any particular church AND you’ll be teaching them that they can make a difference
wherever they are.
Connect their Story to Jesus
On my children’s bathroom mirror I have a phrase that I wrote on there some time ago. It says
“You are God’s Masterpiece”. It’s in reference to Ephesians 2:10 which says “For we are God’s
masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned
for us long ago.”
We want our kids to see how what they do is connected to who they are in Jesus. We want
them to understand that their story is a small part of Jesus’ larger story to the world. When
they serve, in church or in the city, they are actively telling the Gospel story to those around
Listen, we all want to make a difference in life and save the world! But that’s not what Jesus
called us to do. He called us to love others, to serve the least of these, to go after the one. So as
families let’s do that. Don’t teach your kids to go out and “save the world”. That’s impossible.
Go with them, show them how to save one person’s world and just watch what Jesus does in