Have you ever had a child that did not want to be a part of your ministry or event? I have had a few and I’m going to share some of the things I faced, how I handled it and the outcome. My hope is that it encourages you in your ministry.
A few years ago, I literally had a child coming to a week long residential summer camp that was kicking and screaming all the way and I knew he was arriving not wanting to be there. This would be their second summer at camp and during the previous summer, they were homesick and participated in very few activities, but I was able to encourage them to stay for the entire week.
The next year, they were going to arrive not wanting to be there. By the second day of the week, this child was fine and enjoyed the rest of the week and was eager to return the following year. So how did this transformation occur? Let me share some of the elements involved.
First is the obvious prayer. Praying that God would give me the wisdom needed to handle the situation, to be able to reach out to this child and help them have a good week.
Second, and just as important as the first, was a partnership with the parents. They shared with me how the child was reacting, as well as the things they were saying to their child to help them prepare and enjoy camp. When the home-sickness began, I was able to “piggy-back” on what their parents had been saying, re-enforcing them and how God would help them through this time.
Third, being attentive to their needs and what was “triggering” the homesickness. The first evening there were games. I watched this child do well in one area and enjoying themselves. Then they went to a different game where they did not excel as much. I could see them start to withdrawal, then they came and told me they were getting homesick. I was able to share what I had observed and they agreed with what I said. I prayed with them and things were better for the night. The next day, one more bout of homesickness where I could re-enforce God’s Word and what their parents had said. After one more time of praying with the child, God worked in their heart and they were fine the rest of the week and looking forward to the next year.
One other thing I did was to have someone they knew from camp the previous year ready to “hang” with them when they arrived to help make them feel comfortable.
No, it wasn’t fun waiting for this child to arrive knowing that they were coming kicking and screaming, but God provided the wisdom I needed, and the parents partnered with me to have “life-change” in their child. It ended up being a great week.
Have you had an experience like this? How did you handle it?