Children’s ministry was the first thing I noticed at Hosanna Church. The ministry glowed like a light from heaven. Some churches support children’s ministry, while others hire someone to keep the children out of sight. My husband and I have been in both kinds of churches. Hosanna was unique in the high priority given to children.
We visited Hosanna several times before we decided to stay. The first thing I heard Elinor, Hosanna’s Children’s Pastor, say was G-double O-D-J-O-B! In fact, I heard her say it several times before I realized she was saying “Good Job” to the children. The children loved it and clearly loved her.
I watched Elinor interact with the children and saw a rare ability to connect. She did not talk down to the children as adults often do, but squatted to their eye level and showed a genuine interest in what they said. She asked what they learned in church and reinforced the simple truths with gentleness and kindness. I marveled at the orderly way she conducted the Children’s Service and the diligence of the teenagers who worked with her. I can sum up what I saw in two words. G-double O-D-J-O-B! Good job, Elinor!
When I invited Elinor and her husband to lunch, I expected her to tell me she was born to work with children. I was wrong. Elinor came to American from Puerto Rico when she was two months old. Her family settled in Miami, where a neighborhood friend brought her to church. Her parents’ marriage ended in divorce, and Elinor ran away from home when she was sixteen. She moved from one friend’s house to another until she had worn out her welcome and had no place to go. Desperate, she called her father, who had moved to South Carolina. She was eighteen when she moved in with her father and rediscovered her Christian roots at a local Assembly of God Church.
Feeling called to ministry, Elinor moved to New Orleans and enrolled in the School of Urban Missions. She graduated confident of her abilities and comfortable working with teenagers. Hosanna Church already had a youth pastor, so they hired Elinor for a bookkeeping position. During hurricane Katrina, she evacuated to the Assemblies of God campgrounds and met her future husband, Eddie, while playing a game of UNO.
After they married, Eddie and Elinor prayed for children. God answered, but not in the way they expected. Instead of one child, God gave them fifty when their pastor asked Elinor to become the church’s Children’s Pastor. Elinor told her husband, “We need to be more specific when we pray in the future.” Eddie said the conflict for Elinor was intense. The last thing she desired to do was work with children, but Elinor’s love for God and Christian training prevailed. She submitted to her pastor’s request and prayed for a better attitude.
I’ve pondered Elinor’s story with amusement and a measure of understanding. It is so like God to give you more than you asked for – fifty children when you only wanted one. When my husband and I asked for one son, God gave us two. I’m glad we were a little more specific than Eddie and Elinor. I also understand God sending you down a path you had no desire to walk.
I was happy teaching an adult class at my church. I loved the revelation God granted, constructing the gold nugget into a lesson, and interacting with the students. I could have done it the rest of my life and enjoyed every minute. After a brief five years, God shut the door on teaching and literally dragged me down the road to writing. It never occurred to me to pray for a better attitude as Elinor did.
I’ve wondered why God gives us assignments we don’t desire and came to the conclusion that human desires get in his way. When James described how sin works, he never mentioned the devil. James said the culprit for sin is human desires. Our desires deceive us and lead us astray until we sin, resulting in death. I’ve watched more than one pastor destroy his church and wound many when his desires became more important than the people God called him to serve.
If the thing you desire to do for God doesn’t work out don’t be distressed. Follow the path he sets before you and one day you might hear God say, “G-double O-D-J-O-B. Good Job!