Bags packed, sleeping bag, blow up bed and bag of snacks ready. Scripture Union Holiday Club time had come and I was so excited to get the next 9 days started. Due to the nature of the week long holiday club program, all 30 leaders would be camping out in the school where the program would be held. Yes, sleeping in school classrooms. That in itself was a new experience for me. Friday night started off training weekend before holiday club was to begin bright and early Monday morning. I assumed training weekend would just be painting, hanging decor, organizing crafts for the week, nothing major but boy was I wrong.
While we painted planets, rockets and everything space related for what seemed like forever; somewhere in between we had some really emotional training sessions.Now I should mention that majority of us had only just met and were still getting to know each other, by day 2 of training weekend, I knew maybe 12 names out of the 29 other leaders. In one of our sessions, we were asked to write down and share three life changing moments in our lives. Everyone racked their brains for 15 mins trying to pick the most influential moments.We seemed to cry more and more with each person that spoke. Everyone’s stories were a mix of sad stories turning into happy endings when Jesus stepped in and took control. We ended that session with lots of used tissues and laughs with tears. I walked out of that session having realized some things.
- For ‘strangers’ we had many, many struggles and triumphs in common.
- The more honest and open each person was, the more it encouraged the next person to be just as open.
- My respect for each person grew as I shared in their vulnerability.
- I immediately understood everyone better having had a glimpse into their lives.
It sounds like a simple task and yet it was emotionally draining for the majority. We never realized how life changing our triumphs really were until we put them into words. That session was followed up by a girls only and boys only session where we shared things we have struggled with and overcame as well as things we still struggle with. More tears and more bonding. It’s a strangely freeing feeling when you share a personal story with a group of people and cry all the way through while they cry with you. People you hardly know, sharing in your sadness and your joy. Sharing in your vulnerability. Its freeing and strengthening as you realize that you’re not alone and that there are people supporting you and cheering with you as you get to the good part of the story.
Those realizations seemed to spill over into everything we did thereafter. Everyone had immediately gotten so much closer, that working as a team became easier. It was like each person had acquired 29 cheerleaders and a personal support team in one day. It was something I had never experienced before. Vulnerability producing strength and strength in numbers. When people know your weakest moments and your weaknesses and look at you with all the respect in the world, it changes how you see yourself and those weaknesses. It builds you from the inside. When people accept your imperfections and choose to highlight your strengths, it pushes you forward, it makes you feel capable of doing that which God has put before you to do.And that’s exactly what those 29 other people did for me. They convinced me that I could do everything I needed to do, they reminded me continuously that God would carry me through and they picked me up when I needed it.
We went into holiday club as one, one in spirit, one in love and one in Christ. The way it should be. The result? The result was we saw children’s lives changed. Children learning about Jesus, seeing Him in a new way, in a personal way. We saw breakthrough, we saw healing of deep wounds, we saw Jesus become real to children and teenagers. We experienced His love for us all over again like it was the very first time we encountered Him. We saw His hand, felt His love and experienced His presence. I am still getting messages from parents and teens about how life changing that week was. For all those who attended it, they experienced a new thing. And those of us who served on it, we got taken a lot deeper than we anticipated. God showed up and walked us into something we could never have guessed. It was beautiful. It was life changing. It was everything it needed to be and so much more.
I walked away from holiday club with a 29 member strong family. A family whose strength is found in their vulnerability.