What is God doing in Maryland?
By CBM National Intern, Tori Ford
Is He really moving and working in Baltimore?
Well, yes. He is most definitely at work in Baltimore and continuously has ministry going on throughout Maryland, and it is absolutely awesome that He has allowed me to be able to see just a touch of His work through my final CBM National internship rotation.
When I was first told that I was being sent to the CBM area of Maryland, I didn’t know that I would be working directly in the city of Baltimore (and this was shortly after all of the rioting had started). I wasn’t particularly nervous about-coming here, but I had some doubt that I would actually get here at all – thinking that the rioting might continue andthat would change the decision to send me here. And I was ok with whatever happened.
Praise God, the rioting stopped. Which means that I am here, in Baltimore. 🙂
There is so much that I could write about. Baltimore is like any normal city with the clean, trim, and expensive, as well as the dirty, rough, and falling apart sides of town. The city is as expected, with buildings smashed close together, heavy traffic, graffiti, and people everywhere, but the rest of the area is surprisingly green, filled with trees, houses, and parks. My first day included being given a counterfeit bill at a toll booth and a great conversation about camp with a stranger at a gas station. My first week included an all day training on sharing the Wordless Book with strangers – and then going out and doing it, living with two amazing families (one in the city and one in the suburbs), and meeting the 8 teenagers who I am working alongside this summer.
And it’s working with these teens that I really want to tell you about.
Lena, Nadya, Rebekah, Ruth, Caleb, John, Jordan, and Steven are the 15-17 year old teens who have committed their summer to serving God through training, Bible clubs, a week of summer camp, and sharing the gospel at the county fairs. We have already completed our training and our first two weeks of Bible clubs. God continues to astound me as He is working in and through the lives of these teens.
We had a full week of training at a retreat center/camp, and there we learned how to create Bible lesson plans and how to plug the Wordless Book message (God’s love, our sin/punishment, Jesus’ sacrifice and power of forgiveness) into the Bible lessons we are teaching in the Bible clubs. We are teaching about faith and focusing on Abraham. We also learned how to be animated and engaging as we teach and tell the missionary story, as well as how to teach and explain Bible memory verses and new songs. During this training, Lena, Rebekah, Ruth, and Caleb all had opportunities to actually teach some of the training sessions because this is their third or fourth year of being an SMI (Summer Missionary Intern) with CBM. They have already been through this training two or three times and now have two or three years of experience teaching Bible lessons in the summer through the Bible clubs, and some even at their church with AWANA or other after-school clubs. To be taught by teenagers is a wonderfully humbling experience. It is also an amazing sight to see the more experienced teens help the new ones learn and understand how to better their teaching skills. God has really gifted these teens with teaching abilities and the gift of encouragement.
Our second week of training was a trial run, although it was a completely real Bible club teaching real kids. We met each morning at a church with our teams (my teammates are Rebekah and Nadya), and then we ran through our entire hour of Bible club to practice. Then, we drove into Baltimore city to a school center that was running a day sports camp for elementary students. The kids split up among our 3 teams and we spent the next hour teaching them and singing songs. We worked with the same group of kids each day that week – planting seeds, watering, and even reaping! Over a dozen kids accepted Jesus that week and all of them heard the Gospel. 🙂 It was so amazing to see Jarrell, a boy who is about 8 years old, as he listened to the Bible lesson I was teaching and to see understanding and desire in his eyes as he decided to make the decision to follow Jesus. It was also so encouraging to hear Maya, a 9 year old girl, ask if we were going to be singing more songs that day because she liked them so much. God is most definitely at work as He is drawing more and more people to Himself and into His Kingdom, and to think…what I’m witnessing is His work through these teenagers as they teach, love, and lead by example.
During our first week of “real” Bible clubs, we split up into three teams and went our separate ways for the day. But, instead of only doing one club a day like during the trial run, we did three. Rebekah, Nadya and I taught at two pre-school day care centers and a church day camp, each in a different part of Baltimore. If you have ever taught 3-4 year old children, then you will be able to understand the wonderful blessings and challenges that come with teaching a group of 20 pre-school children. It was amazing to see how the Lord lavished His love on the kids as He used Nadya and Rebekah through their smiles, hugs, high-fives, and attention. He definitely answered our prayers for His help keeping the kids’ attention as we taught them the Bible lessons.
Our second pre-school club during that week was a lot smaller and quieter, so we had to quickly shift mental gears as we went from the first club to the second. Because it was a smaller group of about 8 kids, they were less distracted and we were able to really focus on each child and allow more of them to answer questions. God really encouraged my team through this Bible club by reminding us how much 3-4 year old children learn, remember, and understand even when we think they are distracted! For example, Rebekah taught the memory verse Hebrews 11:1a “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for…” and helped them understand it by using gravity – jumping up in the air and hoping that she will come back down to the ground, even though she can’t see gravity. She taught how we can’t see God but we know He is real, that we can hope in Him, and even act on that hope. Just like jumping to show that you hope in gravity, you can pray to show that you hope in God. And the kids understood that more and more as our team taught that throughout the week. Isn’t God amazing? 🙂
Our last Bible club that week was in the heart of the city and we had anywhere from 4 to 16 kids come. This club had the most distractions to work around as the ages varied from 4 to 14, and there were other day camps meeting in the same room. But God is good. 🙂 The kids did focus on us during crucial points in the lessons and stories and we were able to connect with them a little more on a personal level. They were so excited to tell us all they had done earlier that day during their camp. One of the teen helpers, Ricky, was so encouraged by seeing Rebekah and Nadya teach, even though they’re teenagers, that he decided he wants to do the same, and get more involved with CBM and be an SMI next summer.
Talking and praying with Rebekah and Nadya about our own Bible clubs and also meeting with the other SMI teams and hearing their own experiences is so cool. Each team and each club was different and had different needs. But God provided. He strengthened. He encouraged. He is working in the hearts of the SMI teens, challenging and directing them. Caleb now wants to start a street basketball ministry. Nadya now realizes her heart is burdened for kids who don’t have both a mother and father. Rebekah’s desire to be a full-time missionary with CBM in Maryland is even stronger. God is growing the faith and spiritual maturity of each teen, and He is using them to speak life to so many people.
I’m so thankful to be so involved in a ministry where teenagers are trained to teach and then given so many opportunities to teach God’s Word. I’m thankful God has shown me that such a ministry exists and that it is do-able anywhere. I’m thankful He put me in a position to work with teenagers, the age group He has gifted me to work with. I’m thankful for being trained in how to include the Gospel in just about any kind of lesson. I’m thankful for the peace He has given me to live in such a big and liberal city. I’m thankful for the opportunities He has given me to get to know so many people as I work with them, teach their kids, or live with them.
God is good and He is always at work. 🙂