Kidstuff, our Sunday morning church program for elementary age kids, boasts a pretty diverse mix of volunteers. There are adults of various ages , college students, and even a few elementary kids working as stage hands. Some volunteers act on stage, run sound and lights; others lead worship or small groups, or buddy with special needs kids. There are always a lot of familiar faces when I walk into the Children’s Ministry Center (CMC), but recently I spotted new one. Brady Gamble just joined the volunteer crew as one of the Kidstuf actors. I asked Brady to tell me how he ended up here (it’s not everybody who will agree to act, even if the audience is all under 11 years old).
Brady confessed to me that getting involved was all his wife’s fault. They began attending Arbor Road with their young boys back in September, and soon, his wife was serving as a greeter at a check-in station on Sunday mornings. He said, “And then, Michelle (Collins) approached me in the breezeway randomly, and said, ‘You know, your wife’s serving. We’ve got to get you plugged in too.’ So I came, and I checked it out.” Later, Michelle told Brady, “When I saw you, I was praying for someone to help out here, and God told me that you’re the guy.”
Brady explained, “I had always wanted to be an actor as a kid, but God put me in construction…So, my acting craving can be satisfied right here, you know, and I can serve God.” Brady and I talked a bit about the challenges of making time for learning lines and rehearsal. “Sometimes, construction might get really, really, super busy, and my brain is thinking about bids, and thinking about the job…but really, it’s not hard. It’s wonderful, actually. It’s fun. You know, my three little boys are sitting out there right now. They can say, ‘Wow! Dad serves God,’ you know?”
I also spoke with Aaron Bird, who I found running through his lines for the morning. Aaron, who is currently clocking in at fourteen years in the role of “Vinnie,” a skateboarding, movie-making character in the drama segment of Kidstuff, admits that he didn’t exactly jump eagerly into the breach when his wife asked him to get involved. “At first, I definitely put up walls and barriers. I put up every excuse in the book and literally, God took down every single one of them until I had no excuse left but to obey and follow, and it’s been a blast! Honestly, it’s just a lot of fun. AndI get to see the hard work that goes into it, the labor of love that everyone gives, because as much as we’re doing this for the kids, we’re doing this for God’s glory. ”
It seemed the more I talked with people, the more a common thread started to run through all of the conversations. No matter how long or short a time a person had been involved, one thing became clear: Thinking about serving often seemed intimidating, or like a burden they weren’t sure they were ready to take on. But actually serving, turned out to be fun, joyful, and fulfilling in ways they never expected.
Take Carmela Brust, for example. I’ve been seeing and chatting with Carmela and her husband here at Arbor Road for years, and Bill has been working within Children’s Ministries for twenty or more of them. But Carmela told me that while her children were young, she never felt like she could serve like Bill did. It always seemed as if it would just be too much. Later, however, when the kids were grown, she found that she needed something to combat the depression that came with an empty nest. Still, it was intimidating. The thought of leading a small group of girls on her own was scary. She finally agreed to try, but only if she could serve alongside her husband with his group until she was ready to strike out on her own. “It was hard at first, but now I have confidence. I feel that whenever I need help, I can feel the Holy Spirit helping me…and I feel like they (the kids) are agents of joy.” Now she is confident and happy to lead her own small group of girls. When I asked her if she expected to have this much fun before she started, her answer was emphatic, “No! Maybe, if I had known I was going to have all this fun… I regret not having started sooner. I can say that. I regret it.” Taking a look around during Kidstuff I see kids, college students, parents whose kids are in the audience, and parents whose kids are grown, all working together to teach children about following Jesus, about living for Him in practical ways that they can understand, and they are having an amazing time doing it. It reminds me that no matter how we serve Him or where we serve Him, serving is more than just a meeting other people’s needs. It’s also a way that God can meet mine.
Written by: Valerie VanWinkle