"I'm not helping!"
When I was a Child Evangelism Fellowship Director the office was in a rental apartment building, a two-story building. The office was on the second floor and the steps leading up to the office where extremely narrow and steep. Not to mention dark, gloomy, and filthy.
Often, I would need to order materials such as: visual songs, wordless books, children’s bible series, etc. When the materials arrived, they would be in various boxes that where large and extremely heavy. Just try to picture for a second me carrying those boxes I described up those long, narrow, steep, steps to the very top. It was very dangerous not to mention difficult.
The State Field worker stayed with me for a month or more after my graduation from the Child Evangelism Institute in Warrenton, Missouri, to assist me in settling in and teaching me the ropes in regard to the ministry of CEF. “Hands on experience instead of a textbook now.”
When she and I had to go to the post office to pick up deliveries of materials she would help me drag those boxes up the steep, narrow, steps. She would complain about how difficult it was. “I hate these steps! It’s going to be hard for you to carry these boxes up to the top floor by yourself. One could fall and get hurt really bad. I’m going to pray that one of those apartments downstairs opens up for CEF to rent. When it does you need to rent it right away.” She would repeat similar comments to me whenever boxes were delivered at the Post Office and we’d have to go get them and then lug them up those nasty, steep, steps.
Funny, it wasn’t long after the Field Director kept saying that to me and was praying one would open up, that one did.
I called the State Director to discuss the idea of moving our office downstairs. Her reply was, “It’s a wonderful opportunity and an answer to prayer. Take it before the committee for a vote in your next meeting.”
I prayed quite a bit and eventually called the landlord to request a “look-see” at the available apartment. I was shocked when he showed me the apartment. It was left in such poor condition, that I was appalled by it. There were holes in the drywall in just about every room. It was disgustingly dirty. I don’t think the previous renters ever cleaned. The top of the stove had five layers or more of grease and grime, so did the oven. Guess no one ever cared to clean up the stove either. I secretly wondered, “Will I ever be able to clean this mess up? Maybe the stove is just plain ruined. How could people live like this? I couldn’t stand to live in such conditions.”
After viewing the apartment, I kept praying and contemplated whether the holes in the walls could even be repaired and wondered how. Eventually, I decided to visit a local hardware store and inquired how to repair holes in drywall. They were very helpful and explained to me in great detail what I would have to do and what materials I would have to purchase to fix all those holes.
I took the idea of moving the office to my committee to vote on. I even scheduled it with the landlord so we could hold that meeting in the vacant apartment so each committee member could see it for themselves and be better able to decide what to do.
That evening every single committee member was present and inspected the apartment. I arranged twelve chairs for the committee members such that they were in a circle; we were all facing each other. Their first impression was much like mine. They weren’t very optimistic about all the work that would have to be done to make it habitable. When it was time to vote each one as we went around the circle said, “You can move the office down here but I’m not helping.” My heart secretly sank as those words rang in my ears repeatedly. “You can move the office but I’m not helping you.” As a heard each one utter those words, I began to second guess my desire to move the office. “Maybe it isn’t God’s will?”
Everyone left one by one and my committee chairman remained behind. Must be
he noticed how disappointed I was and wanted to discuss it one on one with me. I shared with him my secret thoughts, “I must be wrong about God wanting to us to move this office downstairs. No one wants to help.” Tears began to flow down my face, uncontrollably. My chairman assured me that was not necessarily true and encouraged me to go ahead if I felt that’s what God would have us do. “You do what you believe is best.”
In a couple of days, I decided that the move was the best thing to do, and contacted the landlord, “We’ll take it. But can you give me a month to fix it up?” He was agreeable, and why not? He was getting it repaired for free.
I bought all the materials and spent every day for weeks all by myself fixing all the holes in the walls by patching them and then chalking over the patches. Then I had to sand those patches down smoothly. After all the holes were repaired and sanded, I then moved on to the chore of painting every single room in that apartment.
It took me several scrubbings to clean up the top of the stove and oven. Believe it not with Easy-off and elbow grease it cleaned up fairly nicely. Believe me it wasn’t a “cake walk,” but well worth it!
Everything was ready to move downstairs, and I had no committee members to help me. “Who can I get to help move all this furniture downstairs? I can’t move it by myself?” I drove down to my parent's house and cried on my mother’s shoulders. Mom told me, “Don’t you worry I’ll get your father and three brothers to help move you.” “Really, that would be wonderful,” I replied. I couldn’t have done it without my family and I was so grateful that I had a family who would stand by me and help me when no one else would.
After my family helped me move, I now had to unpacked everything and organize all the CEF materials for those who might stop by the office to buy materials.
Finally, it was time for a committee meeting and the State Director & Field Director came to that meeting as well. Both of them commented favorably on the move and how the office and apartment looked. “What a wise choice, it looks fantastic. Such a smart move.” Then the committee members each joined in as everyone walked around checking things out and replied, “This was the best decision we could’ve made. We did a great job.”
After the committee members all left the State Director turned to me and said, “None of them helped you with any of this, did they?” My reply, was a simple “NO!” All three of us started laughing about how the committee members took credit for the work I had done.
I learned a few things from this incident. First, you may have to embark on an endeavor alone. Second, a task may seem daunting, but with persistence can be done. Third, don’t become discouraged from what seems to be lack of support. If you look, you can find people that will support you. Finally, when people try to take undeserved credit for good results, it’s best just to laugh it off.