I've been in Arizona for about 2 weeks now after spending 7 weeks in North Sacramento. It was the second summer training program that I did this summer. Just like the first one, God kicked me in the rear to show me that He didn't just call to these STP's to use me, but also to teach me something and to show His greatness.
The reason I wanted to go to this particular training program was because it was working with fatherless young men, which was kind of a no-brainer for me since I grew up without a father myself. During the first couple weeks, I was asked if I would be able to share my testimony with the boys as we had a section called “Knowing God.” I agreed to do it. When I was actually doing it, I was nervous as all get out. But I told them about growing up without a father to teach me how to be a man, how I had created a god out of my report card, and how God had shown me that He is my father and that He is a much greater and more stable God to serve than a letter grade. It was frustrating because I knew some of the boys really didn't care and were actively not listening to anything I was saying.
However, one kid came up to me afterward to ask questions that he didn't want to ask in front of the whole group. He asked, “Do you still hate your father?” which is indeed a loaded question. I told him that God is helping me work towards forgiveness, but I know that that's just not possible without the help of my true Father. I asked if he was angry with his father and he said that he was just angry in general, and blames his father's absence for it. He said he doesn't want to use that as an excuse, but that's the way he sees it.
I was floored. First of all, I didn't really expect this kid to be listening at all. Second, I saw great maturity in him for wanting to take responsibility for his anger. Most of all, I saw a great vulnerability behind his words, that he was essentially a little kid crying out for a father that was never there.
As the rest of the summer played out, that moment really stuck out to me. God showed me how He had orchestrated that day to happen:
First, that was the only day this summer that that kid came.
Second, I was only the 2nd person this summer to give his testimony. When I thought about what I'd say, I thought I would tweak it a bit to be more relatable to the kids, so I mentioned my father, a figure who not only has been absent from my life, but my story as well. Others later in the summer hadn't done that so much, so if I'd gone later, I probably wouldn't have included that.
I have no doubt that God worked July 8th out so that that kid could hear my story and hear about the hope that the Father gives to those who were wronged by other people. Also, in typical God fashion, He didn't let me see what happened past that. I don't know if that kid's a believer now, or if he ever will be one. But that's not my job to know or make happen, though I sometimes think it is. He didn't call me to convert that kid, or any of the other kids I saw. He called me to share my story. He'll take care of the rest.
There were other things that happened in Sacramento this summer that God used to teach me, but it was this that stuck with me the most. I saw God's hand moving undoubtedly that day when He told me to speak to a bunch of crazy kids about my life. And really, He gave me the story. God gave me the seed to plant, now I need to trust him to provide the waterer, and for Him to cause it to grow.