Showing Christ’s love — one child at a time

Amanda Barham (a member of Temple Baptist Church in Ruston, La.) provided this first-person account and the accompanying pictures of her experiences on a recent mission trip to southern Louisiana.

My daughter, Ella Grace, and I recently spent a week in Houma, La., doing mission work. I’ve had a desire to go on a mission trip ever since reading the book Radical by David Platt. I originally planned to go to Montreal but a fear of flying kept me from that. I decided Houma would be good because I could drive and it was a trip that had flexibility so that families could participate.

There were about 120 people representing 14 churches in our association (Concord Union Baptist Association) that made the trip. Ella Grace and I teamed up with Emmanuel Baptist Church and taught a VBS at Trinity Baptist Church in Matthews, La. I went with the intention of teaching 4th & 5th graders but was moved to the Kindergarten & 1st grade classroom because we did not have any children in that age group attend the VBS. We had an average of eight children a night at VBS. Four of these students were children that had traveled from Ruston with their families, two of the students were children that attended Trinity Baptist Church and were being discipled through them, and two of the children were potential prospects. The two potential prospects were sisters, Destiny (5) and her sister Adrian (3).

Destiny was a very shy, quiet, and reserved little girl. She reminded me a lot of my Ella Grace. I talked with her on Monday and tried to make her feel comfortable and welcome. After the first night I talked with my husband, Matt, on the phone and expressed to him that I really didn’t know why God had brought me to Houma. There were about 20 people in our group and only eight children at our VBS. I felt I could have been more useful somewhere else. The thought even crossed my mind that I should just come home. I just didn’t feel like I was needed. I felt like there were so many workers and we weren’t putting our talents to good use. Our VBS didn’t start until 5:30 so we basically had the whole day as free time. I really wondered if this was where I needed to be or if I had misunderstood God. Matt reminded me that I was there and I had a job to do and I could reassess the situation when I got home.

We went back to VBS on Tuesday and Destiny became my sidekick. She stayed right beside me everywhere I went. She seemed to feel safe and comfortable with me. Before VBS that night Ella Grace and I went to Wal-Mart and found a Bible that she had been wanting. She was so excited about it because it had a pretty sparkly cover and it was also the whole Bible so she could follow along with Dr. Rick when he preached out of the Old Testament. She carried it with her everywhere that night and kept it in the box it came in because she said we needed to protect the Holy Bible and keep it safe because it was God’s word.

Wednesday at VBS Destiny brought a little angel figurine and showed it to me. I told her how beautiful it was and she said she had brought it for me. It melted my heart. I found out that night that Destiny had never been to church before that week. I decided that after VBS that Ella Grace and I needed to go by Wal-Mart and buy Destiny a sparkly Bible too. I explained to Ella Grace what we were going to do and how special it would be. She was so excited and could not wait to go back the next night to give Destiny her new Bible. The next night was Thursday and our final night of VBS. Destiny’s mom brought her to church that night and Ella Grace was able to give her the new Bible. Destiny was so proud of her Bible and her mom said she never expected something that nice. Destiny’s mom told me later that night that she called her husband and her parents to tell them what Ella Grace had given Destiny. She was so thankful for that Bible and was amazed that someone would do that for her little girl. It was such a small act on my part but something that made a big impact on that family.

That night was also family night so Destiny’s parents came to watch her sing some of the songs she had learned during the week. At the beginning of each night we would have one child hold the American flag, the Christian flag, and the Bible while we said the pledge to each. Destiny stood up in front of the whole church and held her new Bible upside down with a smile on her face. This was really big for her because she had been very reluctant to leave my side all week. She was so proud of it and wanted to show it off.

My hope for Destiny is that God uses that Bible in her life and that she is always as proud of it as she was that night. I also pray that He uses that Bible to work in the life of Destiny’s parents. I have talked with Destiny’s mom since the trip. She did not grow up going to church and does not go now. That is something she wants to change in the life of her children. She wants to give them something that she did not have.

At the beginning of the week I struggled with why God had brought me to Houma. I was disappointed because I did not see a multitude of children at VBS. God clearly spoke to me that week and showed me that it’s not about numbers. It’s about people and relationships. He brought me there to have a relationship with Destiny and her family. For some reason Destiny felt comfortable with me and I was able to connect with her like no one else could that week. I believe that I was there for Destiny and for Destiny only. God showed me that one small child mattered in His kingdom.

This trip was also something that was very special for Ella Grace. I was able to take her and show her missions in action. I am so thankful that she is learning how to serve others and share God’s love at such a young age. Ella Grace was so excited about giving the Bible to someone else. She was so sad to leave and cried that night. She is already asking to go back and see her new friend.

This trip also gave me a desire to bring this back home to Ruston. We have a community that is in need of Jesus. There is no reason that we cannot serve where we are. I have a strong desire to get into our community and get to know them and share the love of Christ with them. I don’t want it to be a one-time thing but I want to invest in them in and in their life so that they can see that I really care and through this investment I hope to be able to share with them the gospel of Christ.

I would also ask you to pray for Trinity Baptist Church in Matthews, La. It is a very small church that is struggling. My eyes were opened to how hard it is to pastor as church like that. It has to be very discouraging for a pastor and for the church members. Pray that they can reach out to their community and that God can use them to make a difference in His kingdom.


About Eddie Blick

I am a retired journalism teacher and a member of Temple Baptist Church in Ruston, La. This blog is one of several that I created as outlets for my interests.
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