I arrived to ONE7 shortly after 5pm. Traffic had been heavy, but I was in no hurry and didn’t have a deadline, so I was cool with that. I had my music turned up and fresh air coming through the windows, I was pumped for my opportunity that night to be with the kids. I arrived and pulled into the parking lot, taking care not to drive into the 1ft deep pot holes riveting the far left side of the parking lot. But that’s what I like about it, it’s not about the outside, it’s about what is happening on the inside. It’s not about how we look, it’s about where our hearts are at. Maybe at some point they’ll get money to fix the parking lot, but for now they’re more concerned about living in among the poor and homeless, becoming one of them for the sake of the gospel.
I walked in, recognizing several faces and said “Hi!”. I was pumped to be here, a place of love, that makes it hard not to be in a constant state of smiling. To watch these kids play. Not only because they’re so good, but because they’re different than other kids on the street playing. They are living for something greater than themselves. You talk to just about any of the kids they can tell you a situation they were in when it was turning into a fight, but they remember that they are living for Jesus Christ, and He doesn’t get into fights. So they resigned to let the other person have their way. They resign to submission, because they seek to glorify God. Not to say they don’t have little disputes about soccer or octa ball, but they have a sense of who they’re living for, and you can see it in their lives. It makes me smile just thinking about it.
I can’t even remember how we first met, but a little girl with a white t-shirt and tan capris came up to me and asked if I wanted to do something. The beginning of a friendship is always blurred, at some point you realize you’re friends, but you can’t pin point a beginning. She sat next to me on the wall as we waited to play soccer. We talked a little bit, I asked her what her name was, she said “I don’t have a name.” I said my name was Zach. After that she told me her name was “Annette”. I wasn’t sure at that point whether that was her real name, of if she didn’t have a real name, considering the state of some of these kids I wasn’t making an assumption. Later I found out that’s what everyone calls her, so it’s not just a name she picked up for the conversation.
After playing soccer we talked about being hot and thirsty and she went to go get a drink. When she came back she had two cups, one for her and one for me. After that we did everything together. We circled up and welcomed the new people (this was my second time, so I was already part of the family). I met a few new people, every time I go I introduce myself to a couple dozen people, I’m not super good with names, but it’s fun to get to know these kids.
Annette and I teamed up for a soccer tournament of four pairs of two kids each. We played soccer which was fun, but Annete is only 9 and I’m not a superstar myself. Most games we went out at 2:0 but occasionally Annete would score a point. It was just a game to me, not something to get upset over, I wasn’t here for the game, I was here for the kids, I was here for Annette.
We split up for small groups and I helped lead one of the younger groups, ages from 5-9 years old. It was amazing to hear how much the kids know at such a young age, hear them talk about the work Jesus is doing in them. Most of their personal lives are not great, they go to school and then come to ONE7, but go home at night. Most homes are either broken or not in good situations. These kids need Jesus to help them through life.
After small group it was getting close to 9pm and it was about time to go home. I said good bye to a few kids and then searched for Annette. I gave her a hug good bye and left, hoping to see her again on Thursday.
I made a friend that night, God was doing things in my life. I was ministering to these kids, and they were ministering to me. I love ministry, so much. I want my life to be centered around ministry to people, whether it’s in a foreign country, or here in the US.