We did Campaigners a little differently tonight. After we sang everyone got a paper lunch bag, wrote their name on it and taped it to the wall. Next we circled up and read the chapter, "What a hit!" from Bob Goff's Love Does. It's a story about when Bob played baseball and how he wasn't that great. His team's strategy was for Bob to get hit at plate so he could walk to the base. But one time Bob got a great hit over the fence. But the hit wasn't the coolest part; about a week later he got a letter in the mail from his coach telling him that he was a great ball player. Those words from his coach have stayed with him since he first read them.
Bob writes, "I used to think the word spoken about us describe who we are, but now I know they shape who we are." I told the group about how my youth pastor Sheila spoke words that shaped me, my writing professor Heather helped shape me, all of the letters and notes from campers and YL girls have shaped me. Words have power.
In Thessalonians Paul writes, "Encourage one another and build each other up just as you are in the habit of doing. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." Tonight we did just that. We wrote notes of encouragement to our best friends, our leaders, people we've been in Campaigner's groups with and people we've just seen in the hallway. Tonight we made our words matter as we called out the good in people around us.
I've done the Love Tank activity many times before this but never quite like this. There were so many of us there, the guys and girls stayed together to write notes to each other if they wanted and a few guys kept playing basketball while we wrote which was only minorly distracting. I wasn't sure how it would work out but had faith that everyone would get notes and that kids' hearts would be touched by the words they got in their love tank.
Right when we started about seven different girls approached me very worried, "What if someone doesn't get any?" I told each of them, "Well think about who you think wouldn't get one and write to them." Each of them said they would as they realized they had the power to be that person for someone else.
I've done this activity enough times that I'm usually good at estimating how much paper we'll need and end up with a little left over. But these kids were such voracious love tank writers that we were soon running out of paper. People were walking around scavenging for extra pieces or tiny scraps because there was more they wanted to say, more people they wanted to encourage. Everyone left tonight with a love tank full of notes from people calling out their greatness. These bags of notes are more valuable than anything else we could give one another.
For many of these kids this was the first time they'd ever done something like this. It's kind of radical to be so intentional about building other people up but it's worth it every time. God calls us to love one another and as we do that we can't help but to see him shining through.
One of our guys wrote the following on Instagram after he left, "Never felt more blessed to have opportunities, friends and a Savior like this. I thank Him for all he is doing in my life. Come to young life next week, you'll love it."