A Lesson in Encouragement

I had half of a blog post written when something so cool happened that I realized I needed to write about it instead! So I’ll share some about our program Thank God It’s Girls’ Club (TGIGC) another time, but today I am happy to tell you what happened at our last Teen Council meeting.

A little background: Teen Council is a fairly new program at HHD where my co-leader, Riley, and I meet with a small group of high-school students to talk about leadership and give them opportunities to practice leadership skills in our community. As the group progresses, we are hoping that the teens will come up with, plan, and run their own events or service projects in our neighborhood.

At our most recent meeting, Riley taught a great lesson about encouragement, and how important this trait is as we lead and participate in whatever communities we are a part of. The main focus was a section in Acts where we see the early believers sharing everything and selling their possessions to meet the needs of everyone in the group. It is here where we are introduced to Barnabas –called this because it means ‘son of encouragement’ – who is so captivated by the early Church that he, too, sells some land he owns and brings all of the money to the apostles to use.

As we tried to explain how this radical lifestyle might look today, Riley said it would be like if Gary & Becky sold the Hope House and used the money to meet the needs of the neighborhood. One of the girls made a face and quickly responded with, “But that wouldn’t make any sense. The Hope House already meets the needs of the neighborhood. Why sell it for the money?”

WOW. My eyes widened as they met Riley’s across the table, and we smiled. He laughed and admitted that maybe that wasn’t the best example.

The student who made the comment is a young person who has been around since very early in our ministry. It was because of her insistence that HHD do something for the girls that we even began Thank God It’s Girls’ Club, and now she is part of a high school Bible study that formed for the students who aged out of the middle school group. This is someone who is very plugged into who we are and what we do. Her wise words were a great encouragement to me, a reminder that even when we can’t always see it, the work we do and the love we share really are making a huge impact in individual lives and in the community as a whole.

That student was Barnabas to me that day. I think it’s safe to say that we all learned the lesson.

Shalmar Nelson

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