I watched as my oldest son and my husband loaded a weeks worth of clothes into our church van. What seemed like a hundred teenagers buzzed around that van and the church bus. Each person was loaded down with bags of clothes, cereal boxes and the ever present cell phone. The parking lot surrounding our church seemed to hum with activity.
It was early Saturday evening, our youth group was packing up for a mission work camp in New York. My husband and I had spent the day going over a list of necessities. That morning, I had busied myself with all the duties that define me as "mom." The typical reminders of what to pack and how much to pack.
As the bus was loaded down under its week long burden, I began questioning what we packed. Did we remember everything? They would be gone from home for an entire week. What if they needed something that I failed to pack?
As I watched those teenagers, I realized I just wanted to leave the parking lot and spend my evening as planned. Supper out at our family's favorite restaurant and watching a movie together. I wanted to ignore the fact that two of my guys were leaving before dawn the next morning. On a trip that would take them hours away from me and my other two sons.
As I sat there feeling a mix of worry and sadness, one of my younger boys asked "Hey Mom, is that a team?" I followed his pointing finger to the crowd of teenagers and adults busy passing duffle bags into the back of the van.
"What Bud?" I asked, confused.
"Right there. Is that a team?" My boy pointed with more emphasis.
Again, I looked from his finger to the crowd. In all my rambling thoughts and mix of emotions, I had missed what a small boy clearly saw. Our team.
"Yes, Bud. That's a team, our team."
The conversation had been short but prophetic. His young eyes saw what mine should've seen from the start. That group of teenagers and adults formed a team of believers embarking on a mission. They were setting out to play a game they had practiced for in the month previous. Our youth pastor put hours into planning this trip. Youth group meetings revolved around schedules, packing lists and fundraisers. Then, there was the game plan. They went over salvation and bringing others to the saving knowledge of Christ. Each meeting included concentration on the game book ... the Bible.
It didn't matter what was in their bags ... it mattered what was in their hearts. Jesus. And that's what our team was all about. Taking Jesus and sharing Him and His love.
I looked across the sea of teenagers loading their possessions and found my oldest son. He's tall, thin and handsome. I sat in that parking lot looking at the young man that was my little boy. In my mind, I heard him answering my hundred questions of "did you remember to pack ...?" The answer was the same each time. "Mom, I packed my bible, my devotional and a pocket new testament."
I looked at my boy ... I know that God has shaped his spirit in a way that I could never even begin to measure. My son gave his life over to Christ on the day after 9-11. The day after a mark of history in our nation, my son and I knelt on his bedroom floor and I listened as he recited the sinners prayer. He made that choice on his own. I can't take credit for his strong convictions. Sure, there have been family members, friends and others that have influenced him. But, in the end, credit is due our Father and only Him.
And now, I was sending my son to the very city that launched his salvation. For some, New York holds pain from 9-11, a place where they grew up, a tourist spot they enjoy vacationing or maybe even a national symbol of survival after terror. For me, New York reminds me of 9-12. The day my son became a part of the team and now he's off recruiting team members in that same city.
If you're standing on the sidelines, wondering what it takes to be a part of the team ... stop wondering. Get in the game. Grab your play book, recite the game plan and follow the Coach.
This team doesn't have a limit on players allowed. All are welcome.
John 3:16 " For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."