The Kingdom: Here and There
I spend a lot of time driving. Like everything else in life, that can be good or bad. Since I am a “half-full” kind of guy, I give thanks for the time. I use it to pray and process the many things that are going on.
Several weeks ago, I was traveling on a Saturday afternoon to a speaking engagement several hours from home. My presentation would be part of an annual prayer service. As I listened to the radio, one of the news items was the story about the “end of the world,” which, according to the announcer, was to happen the following weekend. Even though I was confident that no one really knows the day or time, it did invite me to think about what I would do if I believed I had one week left before giving an accounting for my life. Obviously, I could come up with lots of ideas about how I could be a better person. But I started thinking about what has become my life’s work and my belief in our power to create part of the Kingdom on earth. Those of you reading this message received it because you are part of this work and its power – the ability to transform lives. I have witnessed some amazing life-changing events in the lives of the children we serve.
As I arrived at my speaking engagement, I discovered that instead of a dinner to support several charities it was, in fact, a dinner to honor the work of the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches specifically. I was very moved! As the program progressed, the pastor got up and read from the Gospel of Matthew and spoke about the judgment when those who welcomed strangers, gave food to the poor, responded to thirst, clothed the naked, cared for and ministered to those in need would be welcomed into the Kingdom. “For whatever you did for one of these of mine, you did it for me.” I continued to be moved by the outpouring of support I felt from this group. I could feel my tension melting away. I looked around and saw a whole room full of people who could have been anywhere else on a Saturday night. They chose to come and hear the Ranch story. What an honor and privilege to be there! The pastor jokingly reminded the audience that they were to rate my presentation with a number, like an Olympic sporting event. Instead of feeling pressured, I felt thankful to have the opportunity. The Ranch is mission-driven and the program sells itself. Who wouldn’t want to help children who, through no fault of their own, need a place to call home? I just spoke from the heart, described the program, and shared some stories. More than one person told me, “That was a ‘10’.” It was a great evening with good food and a wonderful audience filled with people who really care.
At the end of the dinner, a young professional came up and introduced himself and shared that he had helped with the admission of two children to the Ranch. I usually avoid any in-depth conversations regarding children to protect their privacy. However, he clearly knew almost as much of their story as I did. I thanked him for helping these kids and told him he should sleep well knowing what a good deed he had done. His response was, “I did the easy part; I want to thank you for doing all you do!” Both of us know that the “you” to which he referred is the staff, the Board, the volunteers, and all who share their time, talent and treasure to make this life-saving work a reality.
The members of that church reminded me of the awesome power of people working together for good. I received much more from them than I gave.
I left the church around 9:00 p.m. feeling really energized. One of the church members offered to put me up for the night, but I would have been too excited to sleep. My time driving back just flew by.
Children come to us hungry, thirsty, lonely, sad, and scared. They are strangers and we welcome them. I believe that when we address the many needs of the children who come to us we are, in fact, helping make the Kingdom a reality on earth. Every child presents us with an opportunity. The work is too big and too important for us to think we can do it alone. This is truly God’s work! There is never any doubt that as I write this I know that you as a supporter “have our backs.” When the world does end and we have to give a positive accounting – we have done a lot of good. I expect to see a lot of Ranch supporters.
On behalf of all the children……Thank you!