What It's All About
On March 13, 2011 the youth group from Mountain View United Methodist Church of Forest, Virginia served about 50 homeless and low income people at Miller Park in Lynchburg, Virginia. Bethany (name changed) had been there almost every time we had done ministry. She is a young, single mother who came out of an abusive relationship. Her three young children had been taken from her and placed in foster care. She has a number of issues to deal with but is working with social services to meet their requirements so her children can be returned to her.
She shared a number of challenges she was facing, her heartache over not having her kids and her concern for them, especially the fact that they have been separated and frequently moved to new homes. Her oldest son was moved 5 times in less than a year. I asked her if we could pray for her. She eagerly accepted.
Mountain View's youth pastor and three of their youth joined me. We stood in a circle, held hands and began to pray. Often youth aren't comfortable praying with people, but one of them, Caitlyn, said "Hey, God" and lifted up Bethany in a heart-felt prayer that moved us all.
By the time we had finished, Bethany was sobbing. Caitlyn hugged her and began to comfort her. Bethany's tears continued for some minutes afterward. The whole time, Caitlyn held her and softly spoke comfort to her. After a while, the tears stopped flowing and were replaced with smiles and joyful conversations.
The two of them sat together for over a half hour, building a bond of friendship and touching each other's lives in a very special way. Bethany later told me how much Caitlyn's comfort helped her. Sometimes she despairs of ever getting her children back, but her time with Caitlyn refreshed her. This sort of connection doesn't happen on every trip, but it happens quite often. I count it a blessing every time I get to see it. I think more than anything else that I do with TOP, being able to see these wonderful connections is what makes me eager to get to work each day.
Epilogue: A little over a month later, Caitlyn posted this on her Facebook page:
[Bethany]:God loves you. Know that you are beautiful in his eyes. It's been almost a month since your court date and I've been prayin' a lot that you are now with your children. You are the most forgiving and loving person I've met. I know you won't read this but whoever is, please pray for my friend. She deserves a miracle.
Steve Jennings, Executive Director