For spring break, my campus ministry drove down to volunteer at the Give Kids the World Village in Orlando, FL. This is a resort for families who have a child that received a wish from different organizations who grant to children with life-threatening diseases. From their website they say, "The Village and its community partners provide children and their families accommodations in fully-furnished villas, transportation, tickets to theme parks, meals, daily entertainment and much more...Our goal, quite simply, is to provide everything these deserving families need to make their trip the vacation of a lifetime. Since 1986, more than 160,000 children and families have had their dreams fulfilled in a whimsical Village unlike any other place on earth."
This place is run by volunteers, with workers making sure they are organized smoothly. My group, sixteen college students and our fearless campus minister, scooped ice cream, served meals, worked poolside, ran the arcade, controlled the carousel, and so much more. Wish kids alongside their families were so excited and so thankful. It was a beautiful sight to help create a stress-free backdrop that families could share memories together in.
Our first night there, we toured the village and I saw several very sick children, being supported by oxygen tanks and wheelchairs that did not allow for any movement. Our group returned to our AirB&B to worship together, every song talking about how great the Lord is, the hope He brings, the light that He shines, etc. I was so overwhelmed, believing all of these things fully and whole heartedly, but seeing pain afflicting the innocent.
So many turn their hearts away from the goodness of the Lord because of the pain of the world. How could a loving, all powerful God allow suffering? I don't know the full answer to that question, but I do know that in a twinkling of an eye, we will put on the immortal. I know that when my Lord returns, death will be swallowed up in victory. This is what I held onto as I watched families create and treasure memories of their children in what could be their final months.
While serving ice cream, a little girl, probably no more than six, requested a sundae with rainbow sprinkles. Happily scooping, I listened as this girl, appearing to be going through chemotherapy, tell me about how she wants to be a writer when she grows up. The last book she finished is called "Fun in the Sun," and she told me all the things she likes to do in the sunshine. She continued, just as excitedly, about her next book, "Fun in the Rain." She told me in a matter-of-fact voice that not everyone knows how to have fun in the rain, but she does.
Attempting not to burst into tears or spill rainbow sprinkles all over the floor, I thought about this sweet child with a passion for storytelling. Not all kids know how to have fun in the rain, in the hard times, in disease, in trauma, in suffering; but she does.
This is the very charge we are given, my brothers and sisters, in regard to the ressurectection. Closing his thoughts in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says, "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." He's saying, because of the promises of resurrection, because of the hope we have in Jesus Christ, keep going. In the same way, this little girl, her body weak from both disease and treatments, will not be stopped from having fun, even in the rainy times of life. The immortal should not, could not, stop you from working for the Lord because in a twinkling of an eye, we will be changed, and it won't matter anyway.
One of my favorite things I have ever heard, came from a tour guide I had in Greece, he said, "Resurrection begins in the depths of the grave." I spent my spring break in the depths of the grave, watching resurrection power fill terminal children with light in their eyes, giving hope to their parents with their immovable joy. Brothers and sisters, the joy of these children is the kingdom of Heaven.
And one day soon, we will be glorified with Christ, as we were crucified with Him as well. In a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, we shall too be changed.
To learn more about Give Kids the World, visit http://www.gktw.org/