If someone asks me the hardest part of ministering to families in low-income apartment communities, my answer isn’t seeing kids in need. It’s not having to call CPS on occasion. It’s not the wild and crazy behavior of the kids. It’s not dealing with the heartbreak of kids without dads. Those are all hard things. But they’re not the hardest part.
The hardest part is saying “Good-bye.” Kids move in and out a lot. Families living in generational poverty move a lot, often with very little notice. For a variety of reasons – evictions, law trouble, family trouble, need for a “change” – you name it, I’ve seen it. So I’ve said lots of good-byes. And they never get easier.
Last week, I said the hardest good-bye yet to a family I’ve known for 7 years – I met them when I first started at the North Grand Villas. They moved to Cypress Creek Apartments about the same time I started there. We’ve been through a lot together – joy and pain and deaths and births and struggles and hurts. I’ve watched the kids grow up. I’ve helped keep their lights on. I’ve given lectures to the boys when they got out of hand. I’ve held them as they’ve wept. We’ve laughed. Discussed life. We’ve been family.
Last week, they moved to California, closer to family. Towards dreams of a better life. I’m not sure if they’ll find it there. I pray they do. I’m not sure if I’ll see them again. I pray for that, too.
It’s been hard. But I know some truths that make it easier.
One – God loves them more than I do. His eye is on the sparrow. It’s also on them.
Two – I’m not their salvation – here on earth physically or for eternity spirtitually. I am but a piece of that puzzle, put in their path by a God with plans.
Three – I can treasure my many relationships, but they cannot be my ultimate Treasure. My treasure is Him, and Him alone.
He has called me to this ministry. Not for me to have trophies and names I can stick up on some big board in the sky that says “Look what Brooks did!” No, He’s called me to this ministry to show hurting, broken people that He loves them. I got 7 years to do that for a hurting, broken family. They know God’s love now. I rejoice in that. I can be glad in that. In the midst of the pain of good-byes, I also have joy. I have peace.