One of the most beautiful parts of coming alongside vulnerable families in our communities is watching God form special friendships between volunteers and kids or parents served. Few stories show this as clearly as one that happened this summer.
The Studys, one of our Host Families, were caring for a girl (who we’ll call T) and her siblings while their mom was working through challenging life circumstances. The Study family took T to summer youth group at Blackhawk during her stay with them since she was old enough to attend.
T struggled with feeling different from the other kids at youth group. Her background of being raised in an environment where she’d seen fatherlessness and other difficult things firsthand was such a stark contrast from the lives of many of the kids at youth group. T wanted to fit in, but sometimes she would come home to the Study’s after church and cry because of the loneliness she was experiencing. But one thing kept her going back to youth group: the welcoming heart and friendship of a girl named Mattie.
Thirteen-year-old Mattie, without any prompting, introduced herself to T near the beginning of the summer, and from that time they formed a special friendship. Whenever T came to youth group, the girls spent time together. What began simply with a welcoming heart led to a caring relationship and belonging.
Mattie’s heart for helping families in similar situations to T’s extended to her birthday party where she organized a resource drive of donations to be given in place of gifts to help other families needing support. Hundreds of dollars' worth of gift cards, diapers, wipes, and other items were raised at Blackhawk Church thanks to the efforts of Mattie and her family.
One of the most beautiful pictures we see of Jesus is how He welcomes those who are different and often outcast due to their past or social status. Mattie’s example of welcoming and forming a friendship with T illustrates the beauty of the gospel. Whether it’s the new girl in youth group, your neighbor next door, or the family member who’s struggling, part of being a Christ-follower is that we’re called to look for the lonely and show them an open and welcome love.
Living for Jesus involves big sacrifices at times, but often it may be as simple as having an eye and a heart for those who need a friend. Just like Mattie and T’s friendship, we all have people in our lives who need someone to care. Will you be the first to respond?