Can I Stay?

Every Monday we drive all around our neighborhood picking up kids for our weekly outreach program. This is by far one of my favorite things about my job. I love pulling up to the kids’ houses, apartments, or motels and seeing them eagerly run out. At times they climb into the van with a sad or tired expression, but it doesn't last. The minute the van door closes and we're off, their little minds clear of the worry they were carrying and those giggly smiles return.
On our ride back home at the end of the night, I watch them in the rearview mirror. I see some chatting about what activities they did, others singing along to the music, and still others fast asleep before we even leave the parking lot.
Then, as they do every week, they begin to ask, "Can you drop me off last?” “Can we stay longer?" They know the answer to these questions, but I love that they ask anyway. It reminds me that they feel loved and safe. This assures me that they have experienced Christ, because safety and love come first from Him.
Similar to our weekly outreach program, every other Sunday I host a high school Bible study at my house. When our 4:30 starting time hits they all start to trickle in with their heads down, phones in hand, and earbuds in. After some warm welcomes, hugs, and food, their heads start to come up, the phones go away, and the smiles break out.

By the end of the night, they ask the all-too-familiar questions, "Please, can we stay just one more hour?” “Can you call our parents and ask if we can stay?" They already know the answer (it's a school night!) but they still beg and plead. I don't mind, again, because it reflects to me that they feel loved, safe, and accepted here. This assures me that they've experienced Christ.
So when people ask (as they often do) how we measure “success” or how I know that we are making an impact in the lives of these kids, I tell them it is by the weekly questioning, "Can I stay?"

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