Stories from CEF
Five Short Days
– Rebecca Goodwin
It was a hot, humid July day. We came rolling into our 5-Day Club® location, blasting fun kids music. We were a spot of sunshine in a very dark place—dark in more ways than one. Our club was in an inner city housing project in Connecticut, one with cracked cement and trash in many places where we walked. What it looked like on the outside only mirrored the spiritual darkness and death which filled this neighborhood.
Although this was not a nice part of town it was filled with children with different needs, different family situations and different challenges. These children had one thing in common. They all needed the Lord Jesus to answer the deep cry of their hearts. That is why we had come to this place—this housing project with broken homes and broken hearts—to share Jesus with these kids.
We got out of the car, set up for club, prayed and then waited for the kids to come. Everyone enrolled in the summer daycare program was automatically sent to 5-Day Club. Throughout the week we had over 30 children, but on this first day there were only a few. We taught the club like any other—welcome, rules, prayer, songs, stories and games. Jerome* sang the songs but his lyrics were a bit different. He replaced our words about Jesus and salvation with obscene expletives. That was Day One.
The next day Jerome came back. As we taught, he sneaked over to our supplies and began to steal the sports equipment. This was the second day of bad behavior—it tugged at our hearts as we knew this acting out was a result of something Jerome was facing at home. We prayed for Jerome.
The next day we were looking for some improvement, however small, to show something was changing in Jerome. As we taught, however, he picked up sticks and rocks and began to throw them at us! Enough was enough. Our club leader sternly spoke to Jerome—like a loving father who cares for the welfare of his son, seeing his sin and foretelling its consequences—and gave him a five-minute “time out” before he was allowed to come back to the teaching area. This time out seemed to help Jerome and he behaved better for the rest of the day.
What happened the next day was something we didn’t expect. Jerome listened to the Bible lesson and didn’t act up. As Shannon shared the beautiful message of the Gospel, Jerome listened with his heart and his eyes. The Holy Spirit was clearly working. That day Jerome believed in Jesus as his Savior! We could see an instantaneous change. He was not the same eight-year old boy! We gave him a devotional book to take home and read.
The final day of club was the most precious day, the one our team was most honored to witness. It was like seeing a butterfly come out of its cocoon—seeing it shed the old covering of sin and shame and emerge bright and beautiful. We saw the result of salvation in Jerome’s life. There was no bad behavior. Instead a thoughtful, kind, excited boy came out of his shell, full of passion and love for Jesus. He was excited to be at club that day, happy and full of life. During the song time he helped other kids with the motions. At the end of club he told our director how many pages he had done in his Wonder Devotional Book. My director had tears in his eyes as he saw the beauty of this new life in Christ—truly a butterfly had come out of his cocoon!
Some years passed and we found ourselves back in this same housing project. We saw Jerome once again.
But we didn’t find a strong Christian growing in his walk with the Lord. It was clear that Jerome was involved with the wrong crowd. Though Jerome had a dramatically beautiful conversion, without connection to a church and other good influences, this butterfly’s wings had grown weary. Now instead of flying, the butterfly was lethargically crawling on the ground.
But what if a Good News Club® had started in that housing project? What if there was a church partnered with the club that reached out to Jerome, gave him a ride to church, invested in his life and got to know his family? Then Jerome’s story might have been very different.
CEF® President Reese Kauffman said, “We have to do more for these children.” Indeed we do. We must continue to meet with them, put materials into their hands that will help them grow in their everyday walk with God and help them get involved in a local church.
You may have children like Jerome in your club. Don’t be satisfied with only leading them to Christ for salvation. Take the next step—help them develop an Every Day relationship with God. Teach them to spend time in God’s Word Every Day and connect them to a local church where their faith can be strengthened. You will not be sorry and these children will be forever grateful.