I must have said those words dozens of times over two days in early July, sweating in the Texas heat.
“Don’t forget to drink lots of water!”
“Don’t forget to measure twice!”
“Don’t forget to wear your safety goggles!”
Those two words conjured up images in my mind of a string tied around a finger, a reminder not to forget something really important.
Hebrews 13 is full of those kinds of string-around-your-finger reminders:
“Don’t forget to welcome strangers”; “Don’t forget those in prison”; “Don’t forget your leaders”; “Don’t forget to praise God”; and “Don’t forget to do good. Don’t forget to share with others. God is pleased with those kinds of offerings.”
That last reminder — from Hebrews 13:16 (NIRV) — was the theme verse for Mission 56, a collaborative missions project between Children’s Ministry and Local Missions started this year. Shortened to “Don’t forget to do good,” that verse served as a daily reminder for us to do things for others because our good works are pleasing to God.
For Mission 56, our 5th and 6th grade students were teamed up with men from our church — many are members of a group of men who affectionately call themselves “The Geezer Squad.” These men faithfully serve and build homes for Habitat for Humanity as well as doing year-round projects in the community.
These men were designated as group leaders and were not what our students expected them to be — and our students were not what the leaders expected, either. It didn’t take long for our students and their group leaders to bond, though; multigenerational relationships were quickly formed and created an opportunity for the Spirit of God to move.
The group leaders guided our students through each stage of construction — the measuring, the cutting, and ultimately the assembly of picnic tables that converted into benches. These, along with hand-painted flowered pots, were carefully delivered to six families who are residents of Habitat for Humanity homes.
When the tables were finished, our 5th and 6th graders wrote handwritten, personal messages to the recipients of their handiwork on the underside of each table, mostly in the form of scriptures. Most verses were what we had been reminding our students: “Don’t forget to do good.” Others were familiar and favorite verses, such as the fruit of the Spirit, and some were simple messages of love, like “God bless you and your family.”
Over the two days, our students learned to be capable carpenters. Through patience and teamwork, the men from our church shared with our students, not only their woodworking wisdom, but a reminder that Jesus, too, was a carpenter who was taught by his earthly father. The group of adult leaders poured into the lives of the young to help develop a faith memory that will stick, and their work was a testament of what God can do when people gather in His name.
And the experience is one I’m sure our 5th and 6th graders will never forget.
This story first originally appeared in The Point, Fall 2013 edition.