Two weeks ago, we held a retreat with the board members for Christ’s Children where we reflected on the past years of ministry and looked ahead to the future as well. When Chris and I started Christ’s Children eighteen years ago, our oldest son, Nathanael, was a brand new baby. On May 24th, he will graduate from De La Salle High School with high honors. Last week he took a trip out to Yale in Connecticut and Columbia in New York City all by himself for a last visit before he makes his final college choice. We are so proud of him—all his hard work over high school and being accepted at a list of excellent colleges.
But most of all, we are proud of the young man he has become and of who he is deep inside. When Chris and I chose to embark on this life of ministry long ago, we knew that we were choosing not a job, but a style of life and a way of being in the world. We also knew that our children would be integrally a part of our ministry. Our family is the welcoming circle that has been the foundation of the Christian community we wanted others to experience and become a part of.
Choosing this life of urban ministry had impacts on our children—and for good or ill we have always had to trust that God would be there bringing good out of hardships and gifts out of challenges. Nathanael, an introvert like his dad, has grown into his role as a leader and role model over the years in his own time and way. It has brought great joy to this mother’s heart over these past years to see his special brand of gentle-kind-silliness that is perfect for the hearts of the young elementary boys who bask in the sunshine of his attention and care. On our spring break trip, I smiled when we were choosing museums to visit and one young guy’s choice changed as soon as he heard which museum Nathanael was going to. I remember the little jokes Nathanael played on his campers at family camp last year and how they still recall the highjinx at church lunches. I think about how he plays basketball with them—somehow always feeding them the ball, never shooting himself, all the while keeping up a comical play-by-play to narrate the game. I think about how he has modeled hard work and how they have seen him recruited academically by colleges, just as the boys have heard about athletes being recruited for sports.
Nathanael actually chose to write his college entrance essay about our family’s lifestyle and its impact on him. In the essay he said, People might call or come knocking at the door at any hour. When I was little I complained sometimes, because it can be intrusive, but now I’m used to it and our lifestyle is one of my favorite things. Some people I see every week and some pop up out of the blue. I like that there are always people showing up at our house. It’s like having a bunch of brothers and sisters. Most are in middle or elementary school, some are my age and some are adults. Sometimes I play basketball or video games with them and sometimes they make fun of me for being a nerd, when I’m doing my homework. My favorite time of the week is Sunday afternoon, when people stay after church and play basketball or watch football. I appreciate the opportunity to be a good role model for the younger kids and to make them feel special. Our lifestyle has been a huge blessing to me. I am a natural introvert, and I shudder to think what a clumsy recluse I would be now if I hadn’t been gently forced into social situations so frequently. My experiences have given me a deep respect for the diversity that is found among all kinds of people.
We are grateful for all that God has done in Nathanael’s life and for the gift of God he has been to us. We are so thankful for God’s provision for us and for our family over these years. While there have been hard times and obstacles, the joys are also real and deep. We are grateful for the role you have played in our ministry story and for your gifts and prayers.