Four years ago this week I began an internship at Contact. While I was not new to Contact, I was new to being employed there. I can clearly remember my first day. I stood in the doorway of Ron Babbit's office & assured him that while I was interning for the summer I was not 'repenting' & would not be continuing at Contact further. By the end of the summer I wanted a permanent position. While I thought I knew what God had in mind for my ministry in the future, I had no idea of the changes he would make in my heart during just a few short months.
During that summer I was able to reconnect with a family that we had worked with when Contact first started back in 2002. Two of the boys had been in the very first Bible class I was able to teach at the ripe, old age of twelve. The boys were only four & five at the time. They are now fourteen & fifteen years old. During my time at Contact that summer I was able to get to know this family again & was able to begin forming relationships with the younger siblings.
As the years have continued on, my family has continued to be a heavy presence in the lives of this family. Unfortunately two years ago they moved into one of the worst apartment complexes in Tulsa. The apartment is referred to as "little Vietnam" because so many shootings take place there every week. In fact, any time I have mentioned that this is a complex I work in I've been told not to go there. Furthermore, this family has told me not to be there. One day we were taking home the kids and the six year old said, "Miss Kayla, this place is ghetto!! Why do you hang out here?" We pulled up to her apartment & I said, "Do you see that apartment number? I love eight people that live in that apartment & that's why I come here. I don't care where you live! I will continue to come see you because I love YOU always, & forever, & no matter what!"
So many times in this ministry I have been told to quit. This ministry is too hard! Little results come from years & years of work ... The critics of Contact are exactly right!... This ministry is HARD! It HURTS sometimes! BUT I am a christian who is tired of watching on the sidelines & pretending that is ministry. The worst apartment complexes in Tulsa are exactly where I should be hanging out. Jesus did not walk around in the good parts of town. He went to raise Lazarus from the dead when his disciples were warning that he would be killed also. He had no concern for himself, but rather for others. Real ministry is not about yourself... Contact isn't about me & how good I feel. Nor should it be! If my Lord & savior was given a crown of thorns, I cannot expect a bed of roses.
Currently I am walking through the hardest time I have faced in ministry thus far. A boy that I met 10 years ago has allowed gang activity to take over his heart & his life. His choices are destructive & have endangered others, his family, & himself. The news is devastating. I have fought for this young man over & over again & yet tonight I sit here at a loss. A loss for what to do next, a loss for what I should have done different & a loss of how to develop a more effective ministry? However, I also sit here knowing that I cannot change personal choice. I can only continue to love in spite of. I have always told the kids I will love them always, forever, & no matter what... Now I get to walk out the 'no matter what' part.
Deciding whether to sit on the sidelines or continue on in this ministry all depends on how I decide to view this situation. I can either look back & realize that everyone was right. This family was doomed to fail & I should have quit a long time ago. Or I can look back & realize that fighting for them was the right thing to do. I can look back with no regrets & realize that God planted seeds. They may not be ready to receive them yet, but the seeds were planted. My God doesn't waste time! Not a second that I spent in the last ten years with this family was wasted. God has worked in me, through me, & in spite of me to bring about his purposes.
Therefore, I will continue to fight for souls every day of my life! I was asked a few months back what Curtis & I were gonna do when one of the kids we love grows up & makes the wrong choices? Today I have the answer to that question... We are going to continue to do what we have always done. We are going to continue to love even when it is not necessarily deserved, because we both realize that we do not deserve the love God has shown us. We realize that sitting on the sidelines does not win souls & we refuse to QUIT!
While I do not have the answers as to why some kids Contact works with would choose the path of the Lord & others would choose a path of destruction, I know that the answer to ministry is always to love with the love of Christ. We don't need the answers... we simply need to remain in HIM. Tulsa is not unreachable! There is no such thing as a lost cause in the sight of God! Therefore, Curtis, myself, & my family choose to see opportunity in destruction & hope in darkness. Our hearts hurt, but our commitment is strong & our Lord's love is unfailing.
Always... Forever... And No matter What....
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me & I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."