We received the following letter from one of the home owners that our youth assisted:
During mid-July, a youth mission group from your church came to our home and painted our rooms damaged by hurricane Harvey.
I want to complement your church and the two leaders of these young people- not only on the terrific job they did, but on the character traits they possessed. These students had a work ethic that comes from good examples and good leadership.
Thank you for sending this team to help us recover from our hurricane damages.
Theo & Pancho Houston
A Week in Orange, Texas
Zeal (zēl) noun. Great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective. That’s how the dictionary defines what our week in Orange, Texas was all about. It was imprinted on the t-shirts we wore, and Bobby read it to us every morning and evening during our devotional times when he read Romans 12:9-13, our theme passage.
But more than that, I saw it in the teens and adults who gave of themselves during the week.
I can’t write about all the many wonderful experiences each of us had, but I can tell you some of the experiences our team had.
Our team’s client was Ms. Essie Bellfield. And I have to admit that when I first met her, I had a bad attitude. She was dressed nice, drove a nice car, and lived in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. Ms. Essie used to be the mayor of Orange. She was not only the first female mayor but was also the first African American to hold the office. She was (and is) a person of influence in town and a powerhouse presence. I couldn’t help but think, “We aren’t here to help people like this. She can help herself. We should be helping someone who is in real need.”
I’ve since repented of my premature judgment. Little did I know God planned to use Ms. Essie to touch all of our lives and to let us touch her life as well.
We trimmed trees, pulled weeds, mowed grass, planted shrubs, replaced water and termite damaged wood, and washed windows for Ms. Essie. And while we did all of that, she sat on her front porch telling us stories of her life. She told about being part of a gang when she was young, of becoming a nurse and working with Jewish Holocaust survivors, of marching with Martin Luther King, of becoming mayor, and of her daughter dying.
In hindsight, I realize that this powerful woman of influence was lonely. We blessed her not so much by the work we did but by our sitting and listening to her. And we definitely listened as she shared her homespun wisdom with us:
“Susan B. Antony marched so people like you could vote. I marched so my people could vote.”
“If I can be the first female, and the first person who looks like me, to become mayor, you can become anything you want to be.”
“We look different on the outside, but when you cut us, we’re all the same underneath.”
“Edu-ma-cation! Get an edu-ma-cation, and you can become anything you want.” She thought it was funny to say education that way.
“I don’t have much, but I have Jesus, and that’s what really helps.”
Ms. Essie arranged for us to attend the city council meeting where we met the current mayor, the city council, and the city manager. The mayor even gave us a standing ovation for the work we were doing. And we got our picture in the paper.
The next day, one sweet lady who apparently saw our picture in the paper, ran across Bobby and his team at Sonic. With tears in her eyes, she asked if they were the group helping people in town and then she covertly slipped Bobby $50 and walked away.
I doubt our teens remember much of the work they did for Ms. Essie; after all, it’s hard to have much zeal for washing windows. But I can guarantee that everyone will remember how Ms. Essie loved on them and blessed them. I know I’ll never forget what she taught me.
By: Dan Morris