A friend introduced me to a service opportunity, leading a team to paint the interior of the Boys and Girls Club in Brentwood. On my first visit to the club I immediately saw the great needs of this facility. The staff seemed almost skeptical when we walked the facility and started listing the opportunities. To be honest, I was a little overwhelmed as well. There were worn furnishings, holes in walls, paint that had literally been rubbed off walls and doors by use, broken fixtures and a general feeling of disrepair. My initial concerns quickly were replaced resolve as I spent time with staff and children of the center. The kids were full of smiles and laughter. The staff was focused on one thing and one thing only, what’s best for the children. It was evident this place was a safe zone with almost a homey feeling for the children. I got the impression that RB&GC was probably the “happy place” for most of these children. The children were quick and inquisitive. “Are you painting our club? Are you an artist? Can we paint red, can we paint blue?”
Returning home, I made a list of the opportunities, and although I knew all the needs could be filled overtime we had to select the ones we could complete in the allotted time and still leave the center ready for the kids on Monday. “Go Big or Go Home!”, we developed a goal of painting the main hall, and the entrance room, about 4,000 square feet! That will require: 20 gallons of paint(oil base of course), a dozen brushes, ten rollers, extensions and pans, drop cloths, tape, joint compound, the list goes on. I remember thinking “this won’t be cheap”. Then there’s the labor required: my best guest was 100+ hours of labor to complete everything. This would require twenty volunteers, wow!
So we prayed, “Lord please lead us down the right path to serve these kids.” That’s’ when we started the recruiting: Gena and I touched everyone we knew at Hayes Barton. Bible studies, Sunday school classes, SPRC, if we passed you in the Narthex we probably hit you up. There seemed to be a lot of interest, but not very many sign-ups. I even stooped to bribery; I’ll smoke pork for BBQ for anyone that joins the team. Two weeks before the day we had eleven volunteers; six days out we were down to seven. A car accident, an unexpected trip, surgery, things were not headed in the right direction. Then, I heard talk, “some projects may have to be cancelled for lack of volunteers”, oh no not the kids, they need this. We needed a better plan, time to start asking advice. I went to one brother in bible study and he said let’s pray together. We did and unbelievably all I could see during our prayer was the face another member of our study. So the next morning I called, “I need help, we’ve got the supplies, we have a plan of attack, but we’ll never complete this on time without enough hands.” That’s when the Lord took over! The emails and texts started flowing in:
“Trips been canceled, I’ll be there!”
“I know I said I couldn’t make it, but can I send my son instead?”
“Can my husband join us?”
“My wife wants to help”
“Can I bring my daughter?”
“I know we haven’t met, but I heard you needed help, I’d like to help!”
“I’m not a member of HBUMC, but I can paint.”
The Friday before Scattered to Serve we were one short of the goal. Emily, just showed up out of the blue unannounced, we had our team. I have to admit I woke up early and nervous Saturday morning. I have a ton of experience contracting, but I didn’t know some of the volunteers, I knew nothing of the experience levels of any of them. How could I lead them? Everything was answered at the “Commissioning”, I didn’t have a worry, just do the deed, Christ’s in charge!
There wasn’t a lot of rah, rah when we arrived at the club. You could see it in everyone’s eyes, “we got this!” Immediately, volunteers choose their roles: “I’ll roll, I’ll cut, I like taping, I got the drop cloths, let me help move the heavy stuff”, one volunteer brought a cooler full of water for everyone! An hour in, with three to go and we’re doing pretty well. The drop cloths are down, the tape is up, and everything is moved and covered. I just noticed, they are almost done cutting in the blue walls and thought “that was fast.” You need more red paint, no problem and I’m thinking “you need more red paint, already?” You see this team was inspired and just an hour in they were a team! Two hours in, the blue is done, just clean up. The red is moving along. We are over halfway done. Then I notice the laughter, someone turns on music, I think they’re having fun. I better get lunch ready!
We finished an hour early, a great surprise to all, where did the time go? Everything looked great; the leaders of the club were thrilled. But that’s not the best part. We all made new friends, and came closer to those we already enjoyed. We all experienced the joy of Pepe, the leader of the center, “this is amazing”. We gained a little self esteem. So do me a favor, when you notice that member of the congregation with a little fleck of blue or red oil based paint that hasn’t quit been scrubbed off yet… give them a high five, they are rock stars and they’ve been touched by God!