Monday, October 31, 2011

Are You Listening?

“Hiro, are you listening to me??  I asked you a question!”  It was another Monday afternoon and Hiro, my adorable, yet difficult, 4-year-old client was once again giving me a run for my money during our therapy session.  He wasn’t paying attention to anything I was saying and refused to participate in what I had planned.  “How am I supposed to help him with his language problems if he won’t listen to me??” I asked myself in frustration.  Every time I asked him a question, he would talk about a number or a color he noticed hoping that that answer would be sufficient. That was his typical reaction when he didn’t know the answer to something.  Instead of working hard at figuring it out, he blurted out something about numbers or colors, something that he was really good at.  Later during the session, he started getting out of his seat and copying everything that I would say to him.  When he realized that I wasn’t going to back down and let him go off and play Candy Land, he stuck his hand in front of my face and said, “stop talking!”  Was this really happening?  I was literally speechless.  Hiro then looked at me with a serious face, pointed at me with his tiny 4-year-old sized finger and stated, “This One, bad.”  When Hiro forgets my name, which happens every session, he calls me “This One.”  He was calling “This One,” Deanne, bad??  I was hurt, confused, and tremendously disappointed.

The therapy session felt like a complete failure.  All the time I spent carefully planning out the session felt pointless and I wished at that point that Hiro was old enough to understand how much I cared.  How much I wished that he would just pay attention so that I could help him get better.  If Hiro would just pay attention, he would improve very quickly.

Isn’t it the same with us and God?  God knows exactly what areas of our lives need improvement.  He plans out perfect therapy sessions for each of us every day.  Sometimes we show up and sometimes we don’t.  And even if we do, we don’t always pay attention.  We don’t listen to His carefully thought out activities that, we may not always like, but are designed for our improvement and growth.  When we realize that God is challenging us to grow in our weaknesses, we don’t like that it’s hard.  And what we do instead is bust out with our strengths hoping that they will compensate for our weaknesses.  Sometimes we get so fed up that things aren’t going the way we want them to that we stick our hand out in front of God’s face and say, “stop talking!”  And sad to say, we can get so selfish and self-absorbed sometimes that we even forget the name of God.

It makes me smile that God could take this makes-me-want-to-rip-my-hair-out-of-my-head-little-boy, Hiro, to teach me about the true Hero in Heaven, God my Father.  God is the perfect therapist and He has the perfect session planned for you and me everyday.  Let’s pay attention and stop trying to be the heroes of our own lives.

The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10

Deanne Kazumi Snell

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Taylor Street Open House: Worth It for at Least One Young Man

After weeks of planning and publicizing the Taylor Street Open House through flyers and personal invitations in the neighborhood of the location as well as announcements at church the event finally ensued at 11 A.M. April 16, 2011. The REACH Philadelphia Interns and their supporters were organized together, prayed for God’s leading and blessing and they were expectant. The Ministry House sign was freshly set, gospel music was playing into the streets, the scent of freshly prepared vegan sandwiches and other goodies invited passers-bye into the kitchen for food and conversations. Some of our members even went into the streets to bring people into the home but was a harder sell than most expected. But that didn’t take away at all from the amazing work that God had for the team to do that day.

The guests who came and the contacts the young adults acquired made all the effort well worth it. One example of those connections is Young Ervine. Shortly after this youth’s entrance he shared with those around the refreshments that he had a hard time trusting people but that he felt safe in the Ministry House for some reason. He’s already had Bible studies since the open house and is extremely interested in more. Though we weren’t overwhelmed with more attendees than we could accommodate, it is overwhelming to realize how God uses our humble efforts to bring in a harvest for His kingdom. Luke 15:7 NLT states, “heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!"

                       This is the Taylor Street Ministry House before the sign was added.