by Leslie McAdoo
NOTE: This was written over several days, so it may be disjointed. Also, I use “today” to talk about at least 2 different days, just to keep you guessing. Thanks for reading 🙂
“I’ve learned not to take my time too seriously.”
Those were the words of Jeff Thompson, the founder of 10:12 Sports, the organization I will be working with this summer. This is an organization that tries to provide Christian mentorship to teenagers in the area using sports as a mechanism. A lot of these kids are in need of positive (particularly male) role models. As a shameless plug for an organization I have no stake in, but know that they are doing a good work, check out their site: http://www.1012sports.com
I’ve only worked with Jeff for a week, but it took less time than that to be inspired by him. In particular, I’ve been blown away with the intensity that he pursues the kids with. Monday, the first day I was working with him, we went to the house of one of the kids Jeff has been mentoring to pick him up so that we could spend some time with him. We get there, knock on the door, and nothing. Jeff had tried calling/texting to no avail. We waited around a little bit, and then went to go do something else. Once we finished that little errand, we back to this kid’s house, and knocked again. This time someone answered the door, and went to wake the kid up, and he came to the door and told us he’d go get ready. So we wait on the porch for the next 15-20 minutes, and finally he comes out and we get to take he and his friend (who had walked over) to lunch. None of this seems to be particularly inspiring on its own. But over the course of the past week, I’ve watched Jeff drive all over West Baltimore to pick kids up to take them to fundraising events, I’ve seen him ask arrange with a kid’s boss to give the kid time off to go to camp, I’ve seen him wait in parking lots for half an hour only to find out that there is isn’t around, and then rearrange his schedule to come back in the evening. I’ve seen him bend over backwards to get permission slips out to kids, and then again to collect them. I’ve seen him miss deadlines and pay late penalties because he couldn’t get the kids to fill out applications in time. I understand that I haven’t given context for any of these situations, and that probably some of them don’t make sense to you. Just know that I was tremendously impacted by the pursuit he displayed, and how much that reflects God’s love for these kids.
I’ve been around InterVarsity for a while now, and one of the things we stress to student leaders is to follow up with students that they meet, to form relationships with them. And it’s hard. But we ask it of them because Jesus would pursue them. Jesus didn’t take his time too seriously. People are worth Jesus’ time, and if I follow Jesus, that means they are certainly worth my time. But in Jeff’s case, it’s more than time. It’s risking getting chewed out by parents. It’s missing deadlines for camp, and maybe paying fines. In the student leader’s case, it may be knocking on doors. It may mean reaching out to someone by phone call. It may mean inviting yourself to sit at their lunch table with all of their friends (you know who you are). It may mean asking them every week for an entire semester if they want to come to Bible study. But Jesus thought we were worth dying for. And He thought they were worth dying for as well. If they had the good news that we do, we would want them to pursue us with the intensity that Jeff pursues these kids with. Why don’t we do the same? What could possibly be more important?
P.S. You get a bonus thought, it doesn’t tie in really, but I like it 🙂 I was at a community meeting today, and after a series of conversations, was wondering what good one person could do. Then it hit me. Obviously Jesus was one person, and He changed the world. But He did His whole death and resurrection thing, which would be tough for me to do. BUT, it is indisputable in my mind that if Jesus lived my life, the world would change. If He took my place, everything would be different. But when He gave us His Spirit, He said we would do greater things than He. So…
P.P.S. Another bonus thought, since it took me so long to write this. I’ve been worried for a while about this program, afraid that afterwards God will call me to live in the city of Baltimore long term, and that I may even have to raise kids here (a prospect about which there are a great many things I fear). However, a thought occurred to me as I was listening to a friend of mine talk. If God calls me to live in the city, He will provide what I need. God once called Abraham to sacrifice his promised son, and somehow orchestrated things such that Isaac lived. I’m not saying God will call me to do that, or that He will somehow protect my future kids in as drastic a way as He did for Isaac. But surely if God calls me to plant roots in the city, to seek its prosperity, and wants me to send my kids to a public school that isn’t the greatest, He will take of me, and He will take care of my kids. Will He and I always have the same idea of what that looks like? Doubtful. Does that make it any less true that obedience to God is more important than the security of my children? Not an ounce.
Thanks again for reading,
by Leslie McAdoo