No Hands but Our Hands
by Jeremy Arnold
“Christ has no hands but our hands to do His work today
He has no feet but our feet to lead men in the way
He has no tongue but our tongue to tell men how He died
He has no help but our help to bring them to His side.”
– Annie Johnston Flint, Hymn-Writer
“It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
– Frederick Douglass, Reformer
I often get asked how camp went this year. I usually paint a positive picture. Seventy-four bright young souls came into deeper contact with Jesus Christ. They were taught from His Word, and fed with His love. There was fun, silliness, and candy. All were happy.
It would be, if that’s how the story ended. But not all those kids returned to warm and loving families. Some went home to isolation and pain. Some began to miss camp before they even left the gate. Because, after a week by the fire, we sent them back into the cold. And they’re like embers now: still warm, still able to burst into flame again – but also dying slowly.
This is a problem, especially in a city of many children and few fathers. Childhood is when we develop our sense of what loving relationships should look like — or what their absence feels like. And these initial impressions make deep roots. Almost all adult problems can be traced back to childhood origins. Preventing those problems at an early stage is infinitely easier that fixing them at a later one.
Some have proposed a solution called Heroes Academy. It would be a Wednesday-night program that extends the camp experience into the school-year, open for all children currently entering Grade 1-6. We’d invite all campers to return, along with their friends, siblings, and class-mates.
Our hope would be to challenge the Christian attendees to deepen their faith and to brighten their witness. But it’s also for the outsiders. We want to have regular opportunities to teach them the Gospel, especially through how we treat them. We want to offer them a safe and friendly place where they can feel like a valuable part of something important. We want to show them what love looks like.
But there are challenges. Every ministry in the world has some combination of three primary problems: money, staff, and follow-up. We’re blessed in some areas. We have no shortage of finances. And, with Heroes Academy, we have a rare and amazing opportunity to deepen the relationships that we form at camp (few camps have their campers close enough geographically to do this). But we do have one short-fall: we’re going to need more hands and feet if we want to grow.
We were blessed with some amazing volunteers this summer. Many came out to serve. And heaven alone can count the anonymous donations and prayers. But as the old saying goes: ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. Just so, it takes the entire local church to effectively run all the local ministry groups. Because each of us has unique gifts. And the church can’t reach its full potential as long as any of those gifts go unused. We win or lose as a team.
Your gifts might have absolutely nothing to do with camp. But the success of camp ministry is tied to that of the entire body. If, for example, someone offers their gifts to assist with Sunday School, that may free up someone to help at Heroes Academy. All the ministry groups are intertwined together. And we need all hands on deck.
God alone knows which gifts He’s given you. He’s prepared a specific path for each of us, and He’s prepared each of us specifically for that path. No one else can walk ours for us. There is something we can do that only we can do. And there are massive rewards for doing that something. Rewards both in this life and in the one to come. Rewards for us, and rewards for all.
So what can you do? You could join the leadership team for Heroes Academy, or for Ignite. You could offer to lead games, to serve cookies, or to assist with registration. You could mentor a young person in need of guidance, or visit an elderly person in need of companionship. You could help with your funds, or with your time. You could help in the quiet of your prayer-closet, or amidst the noise and chaos of the Sunday nursery. You could make yourself available.
But, we all have competing responsibilities – true. Sometimes those must come first. Sometimes we’re already too involved in ministry. Sometimes we need to take a step back rather than a step forward. It’s not always obvious. It’s a tough decision that God alone can guide us through.
But may we make that decision our top priority. Because the world around is in desperate need of a Saviour’s touch – and He has no hands but ours.
“When Jesus saw the crowds, He was moved to compassion over them – because they were weary and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is great, but the workers are few. Pray to the Lord in charge of the harvest, and ask Him to send more workers into His fields.’” (Matthew 9:36-38)