The excitement was more than her 16-year-old face could contain. Light just poured out of her eyes, and I knew it was going to be good when she said, “I have the coolest story.”
Emma Nash, who I’ve served with the last couple of years in the 3-year-old room in Kids Community, had rushed in after returning from the Student Ministries’ mission trip to Haiti, her hair in tiny braids and her heart overflowing. She was so excited to share with our Preschool Team about her trip — and specifically about Marissa.
She had met Marissa in a Haitian village and the little girl had instantly been drawn to Emma. I wasn’t surprised. Kids love Emma, with her sweet smile and patient words.
I also wasn’t surprised when Emma got to the next part of her story. The part where, as she held Marissa, she started to pray for her. That’s something we do all the time in Kids Community. We pray for and over our kids each week and then we take their nametags home with us and pray some more.
I’m sure this just came naturally to Emma in a way that isn’t true for a lot of folks. Not only did Emma pray for Marissa, but for her mom and dad and siblings. Emma prayed that they would know Jesus.
My eyes teared, as I envisioned this little girl, with her arms wrapped around Emma. But that was just the beginning of the story.
The next day, the Student Ministries team did village ministry and Marissa met Emma at the bus. Emma carried her around all day — until the little girl fell asleep on her shoulder.
As they met and talked to people, they shared about Jesus. The last person Worship Pastor Todd Foster talked to decided to step into a relationship with Christ. The woman’s face glowed, and it was apparent that she was a changed woman. Todd asked if he could take her picture, to remember her and pray for her when he got home. The woman said, "yes," but she wanted her children in the picture with her.
Then, she reached for Marissa.
The Marissa that Emma held. The Marissa who had been prayed for and loved. Marissa's mom had been forever changed. But so had Emma.
At Mission of Hope in Haiti, our Blue Ridge team was told that they were on a mission trip, but that it was only preparing them for the mission field back home. For Emma and Haley and Leah, all teens who were on the trip and who serve in our preschool rooms — part of that mission field is Kids Community. They can pour out their faith-building stories and love and excitement to our kids here at Blue Ridge. The same is true for all the teens on the trip who are now back and serving God all over our church and community.
I’m excited to see how Emma and these students will step into a closer relationship with God — a God they met in a new way in Haiti.