Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mentoring! What difference does it make?

by Michael Rowley

My next door neighbor growing up was named Benjamin Claudell. Everyone in town simply knew him as Benny. Benny had been quite an athlete when he was young. He loved baseball and some people I talked to thought he might have had a chance to become a professional. He was just that good. But before he had a chance, he contracted polio. Although he survived, his illness had left him with a hunchback and a posture which made it impossible for him to stand completely upright. His ball playing days were over.

Fast forward about forty years…I lived with my mother and two older sisters in a trailer house on Smoky Hill Ave. In the house next door lived an employee of the local lumber yard, Benny. Although he would wave and say hello as he walked past our house to and from work, I never gave much thought to him. That was, until the day I was trying to learn to ride a bike. He apparently had watched me crash and burn a few times and without hesitation he offered me some advice. He told me to get in the street along the curb, balance myself on the bike with my foot on the curb, than when I was ready…push off and start pedaling. My first experience with mentoring was a huge success. I had received sound advice from someone who took the time to share their knowledge so that I could develop a new skill.

Through the years I spent many Sunday afternoons at our “secret” fishing creek. The creek was small enough that I primarily used a couple of Benny’s cane fishing poles. Before we left town we stopped at his #1 spot for digging up the best fishing worms or went to Gilkerson’s grocery and picked up a small tub of liver for bait. We always had to stop and pick up some snacks for the day, then drive out about 40 miles west on Highway 40. Turning north we headed to the pasture where we would spend our afternoon. Sometimes my sister Brenda was with us, but often it was just me and Benny. My grandfather always tried to find out where I went fishing. My mother thought it was funny to watch him try to trick me into divulging the location. My response was always the same, “I can’t tell you, it’s a secret!” Benny would have still taken me fishing if our “secret” got out, but that was part of the allure, part of the adventure.

Now fishing was not a full time obligation at the creek. After all, sitting beside a creek and waiting for a fish to bite didn’t require that much attention. So Benny would say, “The poles will be fine, let’s go exploring.” We would head downstream to the chalk (limestone) bluffs where we would do three important things: look for Indian arrowheads, look for fossilized sharks teeth, and we would talk. We never were very successful in the first two endeavors, but it set a wonderful stage for the third. What a wonderful way for a young boy, without a Dad in the home, to spend an afternoon- with someone who took time out of their day to just be there for me.

As I got older and became too cool for the fishing trips, Benny was still there. He had become such a family friend, that he was often invited for dinners or holidays. He always took an interest in what I did. He always congratulated me on athletics, he inquired about grades and what I was studying, he took a genuine interest in who I was and who I was becoming. He was not just a mentor or fishing buddy, he had become one of my best friends.

Benny was a devout Catholic. If he called someone a “Dirty Dog,” that was as close as you’d hear him come to cussing. He whistled all the time. But mostly, he was just happier than anybody else I knew. He wasn’t bitter about how his life had turned out due to the Polio. I think he knew that God still had plans for him. Bigger plans.

During the summer months, Benny spent most of his week nights at the baseball diamonds. He liked to go up and keep score for the little league ball games. There he sat, night after night, with a score pad and a pencil. Sometimes he sat alone, but often with someone like me sitting, watching and learning how to keep score properly.

I remember one night when I was running around with my friends and acting “stupid in public.” I looked up to see him take time from his score-keeping duties, just long enough to give me a long look. I think that was the first time I saw him look disappointed in me. He never said a word. He never brought it up in our conversations. He had done all that he had to do. His look hurt me more than a lecture or a spanking ever could have.

When I was in High School, I took mechanical drawing for 2 years. The second year I was asked to spend some time doing drawing for the city. The first was a layout for a new well house and pumping station. The second was a layout for the new baseball diamond complex that would replace our existing fields. It was the four-plex design, with square bleachers in the middle. Both were built from my drawing.

After attending college and moving to Colorado, my mother told me that they were having a dedication ceremony for the ball fields. Benny had passed away a few years before and I had not been able to go to his funeral. That made it even more bittersweet that I couldn’t make it to the dedication ceremony for the “Benny Claudell Memorial Ball Fields.” But every time I am in town, I try to go by them. I know I should go to the cemetery to pay my respects, but for some reason, it just seems more “right” to go to the baseball diamonds. In my mind I know where Benny would be if he came down from Heaven … watching games and keeping score… and whistling when someone got a good hit or a great play for an out.

That’s when I realized how many lives Benny had touched. They don’t name ball fields after a man who spent time with one kid. He had done some of the same things he did with me, for a lot of kids. But I never knew it. When he came along side of me, he was in the moment. For that brief time, there were no other kids, just me. He was truly a great mentor. He knew how to ask more questions than he gave advice. He made me think about things. He made me a better person.

So when the call goes out for mentors, I guess I feel inclined to take the time. I am not as wise as Benny was, but I can give my attention to a young person. It’s a great way to pass some time and make a difference.

The photo was taken during this years Confirmation class with the two fine young men that I met with, Zach and Dane. They are the reason this story was told.

Michael joined BUMC in 1995 along with his wife Debra and their two sons Jordan and Grant. They live in Erie. He owns and operate Metro Logic, Inc. which specializes in Printed Circuit Design for technology companies. They participated in Cub Scout with the BUMC Pack and eventually started Troop 49 in Lafayette where both boys received their Eagle Scout Awards. Within BUMC, he is currently serving as a Mission Team Leader for annual trips to Ouanaminthe, Haiti for the past 3 years. He has also been on mission in Romania in '96 and southern Haiti in '04. He has served on the Ministry Council, Youth Steering Committee, led several Discipleship classes, acted as the retreat coordinator for the Stephen Ministries Retreat a few years ago, and have helped with holiday food box packing for the last 10 years.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Evening VBS: Small but Mighty

by Christine Rector

At last check BUMC’s Evening Vacation Bible School (VBS) had eighteen kids and ten volunteers registered to participate. Compared to the 300 kids registered for daytime, it doesn’t sound like a lot. I’ve heard some say regarding Evening VBS, “Why bother with so few kids?” and “It’s not worth the energy” and “Maybe you should just forget it!”

I was talking to my mom and commented on the size of Evening VBS and what she said put my disappointment in perspective, “Wow, I wish we had that many kids for our town VBS!” What God was trying to get me to understand was the number of kids doesn’t matter; it’s that BUMC opens its doors in the evening for children to have the opportunity to come to Jesus- to hear about Him and His great love for us, and for them! If one of the eighteen children, hears that Jesus wants to be their forever friend and gives their heart to Jesus then it is well worth it.

Of course, if tons of kids sign up for evening VBS I would not complain! Every child will experience something very special during either VBS session. Evening VBS offers some special features that daytime VBS can’t due to large number of kids- small multi-age classes, most volunteers and myself know every child’s name, and due to the amazing adult to child ratio, many relationships are formed. Evening VBS is a laid back affair, for example, at the end of last year’s VBS program I dismissed the kids to join their parents and we all sang this fun song together. It was so cool to see parents and kids dancing, jumping, waving, high fiving and singing together…we truly were worshipping God.

“People were also bringing babies and little children to Jesus. They wanted Him to touch them. But the disciples told the people to stop. When Jesus saw this, He was angry. He said to His disciples, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t keep them away. God’s kingdom belongs to people like them. What I’m about to tell you is true. Anyone who will not receive God’s kingdom like a little child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in His arms. He put His hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10: 13-16

Christine is the Children's Ministry Assistant at BUMC.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Help, Thanks, Wow

by Sue Morin

I have always had trouble with Paul's exhortation to “Pray without ceasing.” It's easier to pray early in the morning or before bed. It's easier to recite the Our Father, the creed, or sing a hymn—the words are set and generally accepted as a “right” way to pray.

In Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, Anne LaMott writes about prayer as a series of short bursts. We're not praying to impress others, or to hear our own words out loud, we're just talking continually to Jesus as we go about our day, as if He is visibly walking with us. When we pray, we learn so much about our own shortcomings, challenges, needs, and desires. We know about God from reading the Bible, but when we pray, we experience God on a personal level.

Help recognizes that we live in a sometimes painful world where we are not in charge. Help leads to hope because we know that a good God is working in everything. Help, my friend has cancer. Help, the people of Ukraine and Syria. Help, there is more month and not enough money. Help, I just can't deal with teenage angst again today.

Thanks makes us aware of all that has been given. Gratitude reminds us that we are loved and cared for, which leads to joy, which leads to giving, which leads to more joy! Thanks for my Christian upbringing. Thanks for letting me help with Vacation Bible School. Thanks for this amazing moment watching 300 kids sing praise songs.

Wow LaMott says is about, “Having one's mind blown by the mesmerizing or miraculous.” Wow leads to appreciation of God's ingenuity and grace: the Grand Canyon; a car totaled, but the driver walks away unscratched; a newborn baby; a college scholarship letter; the first bite of a ripe, home-grown tomato.

More than anything, when I approach prayer this way, I live more deliberately and feel more alive. When I remember to stay connected to Jesus through all of the moments of the day, it's not the “same old, same old,” just going through the motions. I am honestly sharing all of my experiences with Him. Sharing moments with Him deepens my faith. He is my most trusted companion, closer than a brother.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Thessalonians 5:16-18

Sue Morin has been a part of the BUMC community since moving to Broomfield in 1997. She splits her time between work and keeping up with two teenagers at home who have recently taught her all about "Not So Silent Night" and "Snapchat."

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Aha Moment

by Sara Godwin

I’m just going to put it out there- faith was a hard concept for me to embrace, a difficult idea to visualize and accept. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always believed in God, in heaven, in the wondrous miracles of Jesus and gone to church my whole life. Most of the time, going to church felt like I was just going through the motions.

Now, at least for me, this was a problem as I teach children every day about God. I get up on stage and I sing, dance and tell stories, all in the hope that a child will hear my words and learn about their own faith, their own promise from God that they too will someday see the Kingdom of Heaven. I have been seeking, for quite a while now, something that was eluding me. It came to me in a really amazing revelation, a classic “aha” moment that could only have been sent to me by God himself, and I had to travel half way around the world to get it.

I went on a mission trip to India last year. It was an amazing opportunity that sort of fell in my lap. I wasn’t seeking out an opportunity to do something like this and I never really saw myself as a missionary; after all, how can I teach other people about God, when I was doubting my own convictions? My friends Christine and Jenn mentioned the trip to me in a passing sort of way and the seed was planted. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Then, my aunt sent me a check, out of the blue, for the amount needed to go, and everything fell into place.

When we arrived in India, I was terrified. Here I was, in a completely foreign place, totally out of my comfort zone, expected to bring the word of God to people who didn’t speak my language. On our third or fourth night in India, we went to a church in a little village to give testimony. Each person in our group was expected to stand up and speak to people and tell them something about ourselves. I was a little ambivalent about this exercise. I was tired, I was hot, it was very late and all I really wanted to do was go to our hotel, take a shower and go to sleep. Then, we arrived…to call it a “church” would be overstated, at least per American standards- it was four tiny walls with a rickety roof and a door. As we stepped inside, there were fifty or sixty people, babies all the way to elderly men and women, sitting on a floor, waiting for us to come to them. I learned later that we arrived late and that they had been sitting and waiting for us for several hours. The time didn’t deter them. They waited, sweating and hot and probably very tired, singing their hearts out to God as they waited for us.

The words that had been eluding me came effortlessly when it was my turn to speak. I looked out at all of those beautiful people and realized that they had something that I did not. They had joy. They had that certainty of God’s love and promises that I was seeking. They did not need air conditioning, soft beds, large houses or other material possessions to assure them of His love. They just needed a Bible, a Christian leader and the words of some missionaries from America to help them on their faith journey. All of a sudden everything was put into perspective for me. My heart was filled with joy and the sudden realization that God did have a plan for me, that He was in charge of my path, all I had to do was let Him.

Now, when I sit in church or teach children, I feel great joy and understanding. I literally feel as if I am being filled up with assurance and peace. It is such an amazing feeling and I am so thankful that I was afforded the opportunity to find what was missing in my life. 

Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me-everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Phillipians, 4:9

Sara Godwin is the Assistant Director and Teacher at Apple Tree Christian Preschool and Kindergarten. She has two wonderful children, Rachel and Ian, a loving husband, Shawn, two awesome kitties, Stanley and Lucy, and a sweet dog, Minnie. She has been a member of BUMC for 10 years. She began at BUMC working in the Children’s Ministry, assisting with Sunday School before moving to the preschool. She also helps with Wacky Wednesday and is the self-described crazy lady who wears all sorts of costumes every year at VBS.