The True Heart of Ministry| Mission in Manatiales
By Ashira D. | Children’s Ministry Worker and Youth Team Member
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend six days in Manatiales and minister to the people in that neighborhood. Manatiales is a place in Medellin where the internally displaced in Colombia have formed a community. Ciudad Refugio partnered with students from Christ for the Nations to conduct a week long program designed to be able to reach women, children and the families in this area. The first two days were spent packaging bags of food and distributed to families in the neighborhood. For the remaining days, we conducted a VBS type program for kids of all ages. Through songs, games, lessons and crafts we taught the children about creation, the fall of man, and the story of David and Goliath.
Overall, it was an incredibly fun time. I got to meet new people from all over South America and we had amazing times of worship as well. However, there were some difficult moments as well. The first day of the VBS program was one of the hardest days I have experienced since I began working in in children’s ministry. The group of teachers I was working with, for the most part, had never worked with kids before and had no idea what to expect. And on the other hand, the kids were full of energy and so excited to be there and wouldn’t sit still or listen to anything any of the teachers were saying. Of course, they are kids and that is to be expected. The activities that we planned couldn’t keep their attention enough for them to want to participate and I got more and more frustrated with them. But after we finished the kids program that day, a couple of the children came up to me to give me a hug and to ask what time we would start the next day. Even though, that didn’t erase the hours of frustration it did make it worth it.
The following days were much better and the children seemed to really enjoy everything that we were doing. I had fun watching puppet shows, making bracelets and a lot of other activities. There were still some moments when I was tired and I felt like giving up but there were others when I could look down at smiling faces and feel like what we were doing was making a difference.
After serving for a week in Manantiales I have learned an important lesson. My ability to serve and help others should never be dependent on how I am feeling, on the people around me or the recognition I receive. This may seem very basic to you and, in my head, I know this to be true. But in the actual day to day ministry and in doing things I’ll catch myself thinking that ministry or the things I do only has value if it makes a difference. Especially in working with children, I may never see the direct fruit of what I do and kids will not always come up to me and give me a hug or to say thank you. But even when I think nothing is working and that there is no point to what I’m doing, I have to make a decision to serve God and others to the best of my ability no matter what my surroundings are. I can’t live waiting or expecting results because I’ll be disappointed most of the time. However, when those special moments come, they will come when I least expect it, not when I’m depending or conditioning my service on them.