Our family just returned from a three week trip back to the Midwest, visiting family and going to a church camp at Huntington College in Indiana, the theme this year being Crazy Love taken from the book by Francis Chan. We had an incredible time with family, and reconnected with many old friends from this same church camp where, years ago, before we were married, Heather and I kindled our relationship. As missionaries, we had many opportunities to tell of the work God is doing in Kenya at Tenwek Hospital, and I preached a sermon on the Holiness of God.
Early in the week of camp, I noticed two young boys working hard carrying trays in the cafeteria at lunchtime. “Who are those boys and what are they doing?” I asked a friend. “They are the Howell boys from Ontario Christian Fellowship, and they are carrying food trays for tips, to earn money for world missions,” she said...“They do this every year.” I thought to myself, “How cool that these boys are doing this work,” as I handed Jeffrey two bucks to carry my tray.
The next day at breakfast, I noticed Jeffrey and his brother Jace still hard at work. Later, at the morning general assembly, the camp director announced that the money the Howell boys were earning was going toward the Mission at Tenwek Hospital, a decision made by the boys themselves, and that an anonymous donor was going to match whatever was given by 20%! I was incredibly humbled by these boys, and excited to see what God was going to do for Tenwek.
As the week wore on, the Howell boys continued their relentless service. I could tell they were getting tired and the trays were heavy. Moreover, there were many other fun activities around the camp for young boys to occupy themselves besides carrying people’s dirty trays with melted ice cream, half eaten sandwiches, and stray dollops of mayonnaise greasing fingers and staining clothes. But they persevered in a way that puts me to shame, and reminded me of the truth that our walk with Christ is sometimes hard, sometimes discouraging, in a word, paradoxical, but the joyful treasure that is gained (that is, Christ himself) is so worth it in the end.
At the last service on Sunday morning, the results were in…the Howell boys had collected, after an entire week of carrying trays at every meal, over $1,000. Additionally, five other anonymous donors also agreed to match the amount given by 20% (for a total of 120%) making the grand total raised for Tenwek Hospital over $2,300! More than the funds (although the generosity of all the camp attendees was incredible, and we are thankful for the money to help the poor at Tenwek), was the lessons that I (and others) learned from two boys, ages 11 and 8, about perseverance, radical service, finishing well, and ultimately loving Christ and others. I look forward to what God does through these boys in the future!
2 Cor. 9:13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
Col. 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.