A number of volunteers could not come to help at our clubs last week, because they had the flu. We have been very stretched for team recently, so with even fewer volunteers coming we decided to re-organise the programme, keep all the club groups together at one venue, and stretch the remaining leaders over the various club groups. We prepared a simple colouring in card, because we knew that would engage the children for activity time without too much supervision.
While we were doing the craft a 7 year old boy came in to the area where we run the club and asked Liz if he could join. She patiently brought him to talk to me and I could see that he was fascinated by what the children were doing … but I was more conscious of being stretched.
So I chatted with him and tried to explain that we didn’t have enough leaders to accept new children into club at the moment, but that he could stay for the rest of the day but not officially join yet.
Sitting next to me and listening in was Shaquille, a 10 year old boy who is part of the football club and has been sent home for fighting 3 times already since September. Shaquille was really enjoying the opportunity to do something creative that day, and as he listened he saw a spare card in front of him and simply said: “Mek ‘im come an enjoy ‘imself sir.” As I turned around Shaquille had moved aside to make space for the boy; holding out the spare card and looking at the younger boy he ordered: “Come!” with a warm smile on his face. As the boy approach Shaquille rolled some coloured pencils to be closer within his reach, and as the boy coloured Shaquille made encouraging remarks about his work. They were the last two children to leave club that day.
I was conscious of being stretched, Shaquille was conscious of the fun he was having and that another child wanted to have fun too.
The club actually went very well that day, and we had a sense of God holding everything together and meeting us in some beautiful conversations and moments with the children, like what happened with Shaquille and the younger boy. The following day I read Mark chapter 10 in the message version – which brings a different light a well known passage:
“The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very centre of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.” Mark 10:13 – 16
Shaquille didn’t push a child away. One of the main reasons we are seeking to expand our work through the coming year is that there are many, many more children across Kingston and Jamaica who need this kind of influence in their lives.