Yesterday morning I went to a local school to begin tutoring children with their reading for the first time since 2019. Before the pandemic, the Lord blessed this ministry as children who struggled reading turned into ones who could read sight words, and simple books confidently.
I walked into the school with fond memories of students who learned to love reading during our sessions…..
And then faced reality.
The principal sent six third graders with me to the library, and we sat down at the table. I wanted to make things easy for them since this was our first session, so asked the children to write out their alphabet. The plan was to review the sounds letters make (A is for apple, B is for ball) but I was surprised when they didn’t start writing.
It didn’t take long to realize the children couldn’t write their alphabet without visual help (like the paper you see in the picture above). I honestly don’t blame the children or school system for this because being out of school during the pandemic understandably affected their learning. They actually did very well during our time together but needed a visual aid.
The Lord used that experience to remind me that ministry starts slowly
Missions (and ministry in general) often involves beginning a new ministry. In my case it wasn’t a new ministry, but since reading help hadn’t been done since 2020, I had to approach it that way. One of the most important things to remember when doing this is MOVE SLOWLY. This is hard when you have a burden for the work, and a strong vision for what you want to accomplish. Yet lasting change means we must set aside our plans and desires.
I did enjoy reminiscing about second grade boys who raced each other to the library for reading help or let out a cheer when they saw me come to the classroom. But at the same time knew it would be totally unfair to place those kinds of expectations on this new group. The boys were the result of six-months of meetings, I’m meeting these for the first time!
Yesterday was the beginning of what author and athlete Tim Tebow calls “the grind.” This is the slow painful process of growth that people don’t usually see. Nobody likes going through the grind because it’s slow and doesn’t show results. But only those who are faithful to those periods of behind-the-scenes work get results in the future. Sadly, many individuals give up on the grind because it’s “too slow” or “too hard.” But those individuals lose a great blessing!
Yesterday morning we reviewed the letters A through G and by the end of our session they could tell me what sound each letter made without the paper! That may not seem like much to some, but I know that is growth coming from God, and rejoice in it.