Written by Bethany Molinar, Middle School Coordinator
I love a good adventure! Unfortunately I have a tendency to think that I’m more athletically adventurous than what I am actually physically capable of. Because of this I tend to bite off more “adventure” then I can actually chew. I may be the first to sign up for a high rapid rafting trip, but I’m probably going to be the first one to fall out of the raft. I may complete a 5k, but others will be walking at the same pace I am running. This was again made evident when I decided to join our middle school’s wall climbing class in tackling St. Clement’s climbing wall last week. I had watched our students perform climbing exercises over that past few weeks, and had even helped guide them to where they should place their feet or hands when they got stuck. The wall looked manageable, and so I put on a harness and began the climb. I started out feeling pretty pleased with myself for the first eight feet or so. Though somewhat slippery, I climbed the wall with greater ease than I had expected –that is until I reached the mid-point of the wall, which juts out a bit and requires some extra strength to continue on and complete the course. Try as I did, I felt like I just couldn’t quite make it past this point. Ready to give up, I began to let go of the wall when I heard the voices of our Kids Create students from the ground earnestly exhorting me to keep going by saying things like, “You can do it, Miss Bethany!” “I know you can make it, just put your foot on that rock!”
“Well, goodness gracious”, I thought to myself. “I certainly can’t give up now!” especially since I was the one shouting at them to keep going in the weeks before. So I quickly and a little desperately prayed for some extra strength as I grabbed back onto the wall and tried again. Then a small miracle happened! I made it past the mid-point! Our Kids Create students cheered me on as I completed the course. Victory! As I finished and my feet hit the ground, Yan, one of our sixth graders came up to me and in all sincerity and with a great big smile put his hand on my shoulder and said, “You did a really great job, Bethany. I’m proud of you.” And his words touched my heart.
So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it. -1 Thessalonians 5:11 (MSG)
Though our middle school kids certainly aren’t perfect, I am blessed to be able to see glimpses of this verse lived out as they do life together while at Kids Create. From the cooking class making enough quesadillas so that the rest of the kids can have a special treat after classes, to helping each other with their homework, to translating for students who don’t speak Spanish without being asked to, to sharing their hard earned Kids Create Bucks with one another so that they can all buy Christmas presents for their families –our students are learning and practicing what it means to encourage each other as they find themselves journeying alongside one another day by day. And though this process may be wrought with bumps along the way, they are moving forward in learning what it means to “be together in this” so that no one is left out and no one is left behind.
I couldn’t have been prouder and more humbled by our Ciudad Nueva middle school students than in those moments at the climbing wall. I was unexpectedly moved by the way these students spoke life to me that day. As Yan placed his hand on my shoulder and encouraged me I realized why it moved me so. As Ciudad Nueva’s middle school coordinator, I am called to speak life into our students as they are navigating the awkward and unruly terrain that is adolescence. I consider it a joy and privilege to be able to do this. But that day on the climbing wall I realized that I had forgotten that these same kids also have the capability of ministering and being used by God to speak life into me. I realized that it is important to remember that as they draw closer to God, the Holy Spirit is also empowering and guiding them to be conduits of God’s grace and hope to those around them –and that includes me! I catch this beautiful truth when I seek to be more in tune with the Holy Spirit’s leading at Kids Create. But when life gets messy and our students become especially rowdy or disgruntled, it is easy to lose site of that. I was reminded on that climbing wall that as I minister to our students, God actively uses them to bless me and one another as ministers of God’s hope, grace and love.