It all started for me in the spring/summer of 2006 when I was invited to participate in a children’s ministry leadership role at our Church- Northside Christian Church rolling out a new children’s curriculum/program that fall. I didn’t fully understand it at the time, but I was excited to work with the most amazing team of leaders I knew-women I knew I could learn a lot from. My initial excitement, to be honest, was having the opportunity to see what leadership involved and being given the opportunity to work alongside these amazing women! I had served in various roles at our Church, but was being afforded the privilege to serve as coordinator of the first hour “production” – which became known as Powered UP! It turned out to be a life changing event for me! God showed me, in a totally different way, where He wanted me to be used. And I humbly accepted the honor and LOVED every minute of it!
In the spring of 2008, I was invited by the children’s minister to attend a ministry conference in Atlanta, Georgia. It was called ORANGE and, at the time, I knew nothing about it. Up until that point, I was not involved in the behind the scenes decision making, nor did I understand the philosophy of reThink. I was only involved in the actual week to week programming (and loving every minute of it). Reggie Joiner stepped on-stage at the conference, and I was immediately changed. His presence was so humbling. I had never seen anyone with such a HUGE following appear so down to earth. As he opened the conference, he jokingly stated his daughter was jealous because he had more friends on Facebook than she did. I had no idea what Facebook was, but KNEW I was going to find out the minute I returned home. And that’s just what I did. I signed up for Facebook and became friends with Reggie Joiner! On occasion I would send him private messages, asking him questions – to be honest, I don’t even remember what they were – but he ALWAYS replied. I couldn’t believe it. Now don’t misunderstand, I didn’t think Reggie was a god, I just knew I wanted what he had, the amazing peaceful presence – and thought I could find out what it was by watching and emulating him.
The philosophy of reThink amazed me – and made so much sense. The premise is that the Church AND Family must work together to raise the next generation for Christ. They are willing to share their strategy and network ministry leaders from around the world to share proven ideas and initiate new ideas to creatively teach children about Christ-openly giving credit for everything to God, the Creator of all. The following verbiage was taken directly from the 252 Basics website:
252 Basics is an easy-to-use curriculum designed to put your mind at ease and your heart into overdrive. It centers on 3 Basic Truths modeled by Jesus in Luke 2:52:
- I need to make the wise choice.
- I can trust God no matter what.
- I should treat others the way I want to be treated.
By the time children reach the fifth grade, we want them to understand and own these 3 Basic Truths, so they’re reinforced each week. We also focus on a core virtue each month. This virtue is supported by the weekly bottom line—the learning aim for the day.
I was SO EXCITED to be a part of this organization/initiative to reach children for Christ (even if on the outside) that I began reading everything I could get my hands on and sharing what I learned with my own children and those I came in contact with.
Our Church sends children’s ministry leaders to Orange every year. Unfortunately, leaders are on a three year rotation schedule, and I honestly couldn’t wait to go again. So, I followed the Orange Conference web-site and last fall saw an opportunity to volunteer! OH MY GOSH! I might be able to work that out (if allowed to serve) and attend Orange in 2010 (a year before my rotation). I immediately jumped on Facebook and sent Reggie a message – asking if I could PLEASE volunteer! About a month or so later, I received an email invitation from the volunteer coordinator. After receiving approval from my husband and leave request (from my boss-I work a full-time job on the side), I began an amazing journey!
Orange openly stated that, although they wished they could offer more to the volunteers, they simply weren’t able – the volunteers were responsible for getting TO Orange and arranging their own lodging while they were there, but they would provide a really cool shirt (well, they didn’t say that it was really cool – it just was!) and all your meals (when you served). Well, I signed up to serve EVERY MINUTE I was there! I was able to join our Church crew (in the hotel and rental car) and was left only to pay for airfare (and you can get some pretty amazing deals!). I was on my way!
First, I must say how amazing everyone was to work with along the way! The volunteer coordinator I was honored to work with prior to attending the conference was so tolerant and gracious. If you know me, you know I can be pretty darn passionate about things that mean a lot to me. Okay, some might call it being a tad bit overwhelming and border line pest, but she appreciated my enthusiasm! At a minimum, I would send her weekly emails asking if there was any new information to share. It was the longest couple of months of my life (waiting for Orange to actually come!)
Finally, April 2010 was here! I flew to Atlanta, stayed at the most amazing hotel (Hampton Inn – which I now use exclusively for out of town travel), and had the most amazing experience! The very first night, I SAW Reggie walking down the hall. I was a bit too nervous to introduce myself, so I decided to wait. The following day, I “reported for duty” and couldn’t wait to see what I would get to do! You’ll never believe this….as only God could have orchestrated – I was chosen to serve as the speaker check-in hostess. What was so amazing to me was that I had spent numerous hours over on ministry blogs (and communicated with the authors), listened on-line to NUMEROUS pastors around the world (thanks to the world wide web-Praise God!) and was going to be given the opportunity to meet these leaders! It was incredible! I was blessed to speak (and pray) with Michael Chanley, one of the amazing Ministers from Southeast Christian Church, along with initiating various other ministry/growth/networking projects – a truly genuine Christian man. I met other leaders I wasn’t as familiar with; but learned a lot from during my journey at Orange. I was able to reconnect with Heather Zempel, an amazing small group pastor (and AUTHOR) from National Community Church in Washington, DCI. I was hoping to meet Carey Nieuwhof, whom I had the pleasure of communicating with on the internet for months. With a very short amount of time left to serve at my assignment, I prayed, “Lord, if it’s Your will that I meet him, then please make it happen. However, if it’s not – or you are afraid I’ll think too much of him and less of You – then I leave it up to You.” And you’ll NEVER GUESS what happened….(okay, you probably guessed already) Carey walked up! He said he had been there for days and just decided he should “check in.” I was thrilled to meet him in person and tell him how much I enjoyed his teaching/ministry! It was amazing!
As you have probably noticed – I can go on and on about my involvement/experience with reThink, but will summarize the experience as follows – I, not the staff, but the VOLUNTEER, was treated like a queen! I was constantly asked if there was anything I needed, anything I could be helped with, and I was fed like you cannot image! We had Chick-Fil-A for breakfast every morning (it just doesn’t get any better than that), candy, gum, soft-drinks, water for the taking – and lunch/dinner catered by the most amazing restaurant in the world. I don’t remember the name, but we were treated to barbecue, chicken, burgers, salads, desserts…. I have never eaten such amazing food in my life – and so much of it (not even at kid’s Church camp-and if you’ve ever served at kid’s camp, you know what I mean). Eventually, I met Reggie back-stage and was given a THANK YOU for serving and a hug. Can you imagine that? Thanking ME – I wanted to thank HIM for letting me come!
I am hopeful that I will be able to return to Orange every year for the rest of my life! As a matter of fact, while “directing” attendees to break-out sessions in the hall, I told our children’s minister (while passing) that I will be forever grateful to her for introducing our children (mine included) and ME to this way of thinking! Reggie, you changed our lives for Christ forever! And I am truly forever grateful!
FREE GIVEAWAY Just a reminder, we are giving away three free copies of a new family tool called Cue Box. Here is how we are doing it. The purpose of Kidmin1124.com is to spark conversation and discussion. So, we’re going to offer two different ways to enter to win one of the Cue Boxes. First, leave a comment on any of the Orange Week posts through October 5. Tell us about your experience with Orange, comment on something raised in an article, or just come right out and tell us that you’re commenting because you want to win a cue box. For every comment or reply, we will enter you in the drawing. Also, we’re trying to get the word out if you tweet or retweet any of the articles on Twitter from this series, we will enter your name in the drawing once for each tweet. Just make sure to include @Kidmin1124 in the tweet somewhere so we can find it. The more you comment, and the more you tweet, the greater your chances of winning. We will close the contest on Sunday, October 10, 2010 and draw our winners on October 11.