Thursday, February 9, 2017

Lesson from Playing Catch with a Third Grader

Lesson from Playing Catch with a Third Grader

Today, I was playing catch with a third grader. He and I were just tossing a Hacky-Sack  back and forth, laughing, and having fun. Neither of us were particularly good at catch, but we enjoyed the activity for its simple-ness. Back and forth, throwing and catching. He was not worried about throwing the ball to high, too far, or off to the side because we would just laugh about it and continue playing. Maybe he would try better to aim next time, kick the ball, or go for a crazy tornado arm pitch, just for fun.

Playing catch has been a weekly activity for this third grader and myself. It started as an activity for fun and to get the wiggles out, but now I am seeing the larger impact of this time. Each week the game of catch has given the third grader an opportunity to share about his life in a safe environment. He has opened up about his family, his classes at school, his favorite movie Kung Fu Panda, and his adventures playing Minecraft. This week, he shared with me that he was feeling worried about his upcoming basketball game. He was worried that he would mess up in front of all the people and let the coach down. How often does this third grader ever get to talk with someone who will listen? When does he have someone who can relate to his stories and show interest in his life? Before this semester, I am not sure. This semester, he has me.

This semester I have committed to being a Kids Hope USA mentor. I meet with a single student for an hour each week at his elementary school. I pull him out of class and walk him down to the library for our mentoring session. This is a time where I am fully committed to my student. I have an hour to spend time with the student by listening, having conversations, playing games, going outside, helping with school work, doing science experiments, and playing catch with a hacky-sack. This one hour is a time in the student’s life that he knows I will be there every week just to see him. It may be the only time he has someone that is reliable, consistent, and fully devoted to spending time with him.

Often Kids Hope mentors are paired with students that their teachers or parents have seen a need in the student’s life. Whether that need comes from a difficult home life, struggling in school, challenges with relating to other students, or simply a lack of one-on-one attention, a Kids Hope mentor is there to encourage and be there for the student. The mentors are pulled from a local church, so their time can be covered in prayer from the church and they can act on Jesus’ words, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.” The mentors are to show the love, care, and compassion that Jesus had for the children. 

So this week I have learned a lesson by playing catch with a third grader. The lesson is that through something as small and fun as tossing a hacky-sack back and forth, God uses that for His Glory in a way far greater than we can understand. This third grader has shared part of his life and worries with me because I have been obedient to the command of going out into the world to make disciples. I took a step of faith in becoming a mentor, and God has directed my steps in encouraging, teaching, and equipping a third grader to fulfill his full God given potential. This is a small taste of what it is to chase a Vision to see all peoples of the world Know, Worship, and Grow as disciples of Jesus Christ. What an impact this day could be for the student. The course of his live could be forever changed because someone had taken that step and was willing to play catch. 

Dustin Edwards

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