On the surface, it might have looked like just another play group. Singing silly songs, jumping rope, tossing the football and crafts don't look like church to most people. But done with the right heart and message, the end results can be just as rewarding.
That's how 15 students from Wayland Baptist University spent their Spring Break vacation, as participants in mission projects for Mission Arlington. The group, accompanied by Baptist Student Ministries Director Tommy Foster, his wife Gretchen and Wayland's Director of Communications Teresa Young, was primarily responsible for leading Bible clubs called "Rainbow Express" in apartment communities in and around Arlington.
Wayland was just one of many college and youth groups who spent the week serving through Mission Arlington. As a university group, the students spent their morning leading a Rainbow Express club in one complex and traveled to another for a similar afternoon session. Wayland's group was split into three groups for Bible clubs and traveled to a variety of locations for their projects.
Though some groups had relatively small turnouts by neighborhood children, the majority of the locations had more than 50 students - one had nearly 100. The clubs opened with games and silly songs like "With Jesus in Your Boat" and a hip version of "Jesus Loves Me." The group then led Bible stories and taught the children John 3:16 during the week.
Though disguised as fun, the primary purpose for the week was to spread God's love and the gospel with the children and be available for them. The rewards were numerous.
Several of the Wayland students also had life-changing experiences. Korby Calley, a freshman at Wayland, was able to witness to several children during the week, see them accept Christ and then hear of their witness to others.
"God never ceases to amaze me! Words can never describe what it feels like to allow God to use you in order to touch children's hearts," she said. "We are all God's children, and for me to see kids fully give their life to God just blows me away."
Freshman Meghan Gill was also touched by how God moved, allowing the students to help lead nearly 70 children to the Lord over the week. Like most of the group, she bonded instantly with some of the children.
"The kids were beautiful and so in need. I longed to take them home and care for them myself, but I'm learning to trust the Lord with their lives!" Gill said. "To serve Him is an honor and the trials I count as joy for those 65-plus kids who are children of the King because of our obedience. What a beautiful time serving."
Gill helped lead cabin devotionals among the group many nights and penned a song about her experience during Spring Break, which she shared at Wayland's chapel service March 28. But the song was just one reminder of the memories the students and sponsors have from the week.
"One thing that is forever etched in my mind is something Tommy Foster said the first night: 'God doesn't need you to work in people's lives; he chooses to use you for your benefit and others,' " Young said. "I came away with a totally new perspective on sharing my faith and what an incredible privilege it is to be called a child of God. He definitely blessed me greatly by this experience."