Monday, November 30 marks the official 5th year anniversary of the founding of Mission 2540. At least it does in my head, because on November 30, 2004 we officially signed and submitted all the documents to incorporate the ministry as a non-profit entity. We also held our very first banquet that night. So it’s kind of the official launch date even though we had done several things in the few months leading up to that.
I’ll be out of town on Monday, and we’re heading into the Thanksgiving weekend, so I think now is a good time to post what I discussed at the banquet: 10 Things I’ve Learned in 5 Years of Ministry. They’re not the only 10 things, but I think they’re probably the biggest:
1. Mission 2540 is not my ministry. Jesus said to feed, clothe, and love the “least of these.” It wasn’t my idea. I’m just doing what I was called to do. Plus, this whole thing would be impossible without the giving, help, and prayers of so many of you.
2. It’s still hard to describe what it is I do. Most people answer “Teacher” or “Lawyer” or “Plumber” or something when they’re asked what they do. Me? I guess the best answer is “I run a little ministry where I play the role of pastorteacherfriendfatherfigurecounselorbillpayergrocery-shoppermagictrickguygame playerandwhateverelsemightbeneeded.” It’s probably easier to say I just share the love of Jesus with some hurting people.
3. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I see some horrible, heartbreaking things every day. It’s nice to know God sees it too and cares more than I do. I’ve got to give what I see to him.
4. We’ve got to learn to laugh. I see sad stuff, but kids are hilarious too. I laugh daily. Last week, Jose, who is 4, asked me to pray for him because his fish died. So I began, “God comfort Jose because he’s upset about losing his fish.” Jose interrupted and said, “I didn’t lose him. He died!” That’s funny.
5. The poverty we deal with is spiritual, not just physical.
6. Kids need a daddy. I don’t know many dads involved in the lives of the kids I minister to, but I sure know a ton of kids with broken hearts that long for their daddy.
7. Getting kids out of their environment is vital. Taking kids away to camps and retreats is necessary, and fun.
8. Always be prepared for something new. Kids in this environment are always moving out, and new kids are moving in. I’ve learned how to say Good-bye and I’ve learned how to say Hello. Hello’s are definitely more fun. New opportunities are always presenting themselves. I’ve got to be ready for them.
9. He is our provider. The economy isn’t great right now, and neither is the giving to the ministry. But God continues to provide for this ministry somehow. And we’ll keep on going until He says stop.
10. We can make a difference. I may still not know quite what I’m doing, but I know that Mission 2540 has impacted lives forever. Kids are seeing that there’s hope beyond what is their reality. Girls know their destiny is not to get pregnant in high school and start raising babies. Guys know that a man doesn’t get a girl pregnant and walk out on her. Young men and women are thinking about college and what they’ll do for a living. They know that it’s possible to earn a good living legally. Kids have learned to forgive those that have hurt them, to take care of the hurting, and that talking things out is more productive than fighting.
And, most importantly, they know there is a God who loves them more than any daddy every will, and a Savior whose death provided a grace and forgiveness that’s so big it’s impossible to understand, but easy to accept. And I’m thankful for that.