Changing a Community

Joy Roberts

Joy Roberts

Guest Post

Joy is an In The Gap Alumnus with a passion for people, God’s Kingdom, and Chick-Fil-A. She came through In The Gap as a student for 3 sessions in 2014-2015. Now she runs a blog, works at Chick-Fil-A, and teaches character education at an Elementary School in Benbrook, Texas. She tells how the skills she received at In The Gap equipped her for what she is doing now. Her blog, hoperenown.com, includes teaching tips and tools for spiritual growth. 

It’s been 2 years since I returned from my last semester at In the Gap. It’s not easy to come home from 20 hours of training and discipleship every week, along with 40 hours of weekly Character classes and after-school Bible Clubs to suddenly nothing. But, God is faithful to give us seasons of rest, dear ones: we shouldn’t resist it. A few months after being home, the Lord began opening doors left and right to become a part-time nanny, then a full-time summer camp worker, and an after-school counselor to 27 fifth graders.

As a part-time nanny, I was able to use character-based praise and character-based correction. At summer camp, I shared the wordless book every chance I had. I lost count how many children accepted Christ that summer. Knowing how to share the Gospel with children effectively is imperative for anyone wanting to be in ministry. We have to know how to share truth without watering it down! In the Gap staff trained us LIT’s how to condense the truth, in a way that a child can understand it, without losing anything important. Another tool they gave us is how to create a dynamic Bible lesson straight from the Bible itself. At the Boys and Girls Club, I was able to use this tool at our Bible Club assemblies. I resigned from this job when my family moved from East Texas to west of Fort Worth and I began working at Chick-fil-A.

The reason I took this position was because I knew that Chick-fil-A’s desire was to serve the community in a Christ-like way. We even have something called “2nd mile service” that is taken directly from Matthew 5:41 “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”

I want to love my neighbor more than I love myself. Chick-fil-A has countless opportunities to do this. Two weeks after starting at Chick-fil-A Benbrook, I went to my store’s owner and pitched the idea of taking Character Class to the local elementary school. The idea is that the students will learn a new character quality each month taught by one Chick-fil-A employee and myself.

Then, they would come in to Chick-fil-A, tell me the definition, and they’d get a free kid’s meal. My employer sat back in his chair and said, “I’m all on board! One thing, though. You can’t spend any money out of your own pocket. Not even markers, ok? You give me an amount you need each month and I’ll take care of it.” Wow! My mind was blown. God is so creative, isn’t He? I didn’t entirely know why He had me at Chick-fil-A, but I was excited to see it unfold. Getting to take Character Class a Texas elementary school has definitely been a highlight. We’ve done 3 presentations so far. During the first one, we did an overview of what character class is about along with a quick lesson on Initiative, Dependability, and Truthfulness. Once the new school year started, we taught Truthfulness more in-depth and then the following month we taught Forgiveness. God is moving tremendously in this and I cannot wait to see where it goes.                                                                                                    

I realize that this may not change the world, but as Katie Davis Majors said, “It may take place in a foreign land or it may take place in your backyard, but I believe that we were each created to change the world for someone. To serve someone. To love someone the way Christ first loved us, to spread His light. This is the dream, and it is possible.”  Katie Davis Majors

Hope, Despite the Nightmare

I woke up, looked around, and realized there was no one in our room. I jumped out of bed and ran downstairs to the cafeteria just to realize that breakfast was being put away, and so was the lunch I needed to pack. I ran into the prop room and realized that I had no idea what to grab and my teaching partner wasn’t there, along with everyone else. I looked out the door and realized our van was gone. This was the first day of teaching and I was pretty sure I was about to die.

Julia Reeves

Level 1 Student

My heart began to beat faster and faster and my face began to sweat, then I jerked up as though lightning had struck in our room. I peered through the darkness only to realize that all my roommates were still asleep. Then, I looked down at my phone and it read: “2:35 A.M.” It was just a dream.

To make you all feel better, I actually ate breakfast, packed my lunch, got all my props, and left on time, and had a great first day of teaching. But I had several breaks, so I decided to go play with some kids at recess. I stepped through the door to the playground and there were hundreds of children playing in the grass and on the playgrounds. As I began to play with some of them I noticed one girl, about eight years old, come running near to where I was. She dove underneath a slide in the playground and buried her face in the hard chipped mulch. I went over to her and asked her if she wanted to play with us. She peeked through her arm and looked up at me with anger, frustration, hurt, and pain written all over her face. Had anyone loved this girl? I proceeded to ask her to please play with us and eventually, without much talking on her part, she got up and decided that she would play with me. As I played with the girl, I was able to encourage her a little bit and try to love her. Eventually, before I had to go, I saw a shy smile and she gave me a little hug.

When I came back to this school the second week, I saw the same girl shoving her classmates out of the way so she could get the first pick of something in the lunchroom. Then I noticed a big black bruise on her cheek—evidence that she had most likely been bullied, and was also a bully. I had witnessed the bullying several times, and it seemed a normal occurrence at this school. I went over to talk to her and I just tried to encourage her about something good, so I told her how pretty her hair was and asked her how her day had been going. All the kids around her at the lunch table seemed to be afraid of her and were leaning away. As I left, she waved and gave me a smile like I’ve never seen from her before.

This girl was living a nightmare with no hope. But there is Hope. In the public schools we are not allowed to share the Hope directly, but instead we are allowed to teach them character. Jesus is the example from which we learn about this character. So as we teach these character qualities, I just pray, and ask you to pray, that this girl would find Hope from Jesus to end her nightmare. Nightmares aren’t real, but they seem real. There is Hope, and Jesus has the power to end her nightmare.

A Multiplied Impact

Several weeks ago, we had our summer program, Operation Impact! One of the goals of this program is multiplication: we equip young people with the skills to actually lead their own Bible Club in their home city. God had been putting it on several of the young people’s hearts to take the skills they learned to their home and host a Bible Club right where they lived!

Carolyn Hills lives in Miami, Florida, and attended Operation Impact this summer. This is her story of God working in her own neighborhood.

“I was filled with fear at the prospect of leading a Bible club on my own. All the unknowns started filling my head, drowning out all whispers of hope. Unknowns are scary to me. As I thought of where to do it, how to do it, who to do it with, and what I would even do, I came up with nothing but my own nervousness and fear. This was not good.

“I got in touch with a friend who leads Bible Clubs all the time. I told her my fears and asked her what to do. The first thing she told me to do was to pray. I had done so much freaking-out, but zero prayer. How could I have forgotten? The fears had overtaken my thoughts. I couldn’t even hear God’s Spirit. Almost immediately, I went to a quiet place and poured out my heart before God. I told Him my fears and unknowns. I told Him about my inadequacy. I surrendered the club to Him. Then, the unexplainable happened: He filled me with His unfathomable peace.

“Shortly after this, I was reading in 1 John 4, and read verse 18, which says: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear…” God told me not to fear. I asked Him to fill me with His perfect and complete love so that all fear would be banished. And He did!

“God is so cool! He took all fear from me and replaced it with His amazing love. I realized He was taking care of every single detail of this Bible club. He knew which kids would come, who would teach the curriculum, where the club would be held, how it would all come together, and everything in between. He knew, even though I didn’t.

“Watching God put the whole Bible club together was amazing. I cannot take credit for any of it. God brought the right kids – all thirteen of them! God gave us sunshine, even though it was scheduled to rain all week. God gave us energy and endurance when we thought we couldn’t go on. And God revealed His truth to me and the precious children that came to Bible club.”

We are so excited about those that are using the skills they learned here and leading Bible Clubs! Please take a moment to pray for these young people as they have a positive impact for God’s kingdom across the country.

 

Operation Impact 2017

This summer, God raised up a unified team of 25 summer missionaries for Operation Impact, and we watched God work! Every night, prayer requests were made during the praise and prayer time, and we would witness God glorifying Himself by answering those prayers in many different ways. Watch some of the highlights of Operation Impact 2017!

 

ITG’s 7th Anniversary!

We will soon be celebrating In The Gap’s 7th anniversary on June 10th! In the past 7 years, God has blessed us with the opportunity to work with 32 public elementary schools in Oklahoma City. A total of 202 Leaders In Training have come through over the course of 20 sessions so far. As we look back, we see God’s fingerprints all over the ministry, and the people who have been involved. Thank you so much for standing with us!