Have you ever found a tiny note left in your bag that has just meant the whole world to you? Or received an encouraging text message that has changed your mood for the whole day? Has anyone ever offered to have coffee with you and you've felt that little bit more loved and cared for?
Well this weekend I was reminded of how much the little things really do matter and what a big difference they can make. Along with my husband I got the privilege of serving on one of the many Spree summer camps taking place across the UK organised by Urban Saints. We were tasked with preparing the ministry sessions for the service crew, a group of 30 16-20 year olds who came on camp mainly to do the dogs body jobs (manning the bouncy castles, stewarding, litter picking, etc). But this year we also got the amazing opportunity to connect with them before, during and after the event and to really mentor and encourage them.
Through the course of numerous text messages pre-event and a Facebook group mainly dominated by comments from myself, we were able to get to know some of the group a little before the weekend came. Then throughout the weekend we were freed up with no other tasks to do so that we could just spend time chatting to them and getting to know their hearts. It is amazing how much you can learn about someone's hopes, dreams, fears, disappointments and successes in a 5 minute conversation. Taking that time to really listen paid off.
We were able to spend the last morning of the weekend preparing commissioning gifts for all the young people - special notebooks containing a handwritten and personal message for each of them along with a bible verse to encourage them in the "real world". Already many of the group have contacted us to say how touched they were by the message they received, and hopefully that will help them to know how loved and cared for they are.
Our final little thing to make sure that the impact of this weekend is lasting was to get the service crew to write a letter to themselves for a few months time. I will post these out later in the year and hopefully it will be a nice surprise and reminder of what they learnt and how they felt. I may even pop an extra surprise in the envelopes of those who have left them unsealed!!
It may not sound like much, but a text message, a 5 minute conversation, the time it takes to write some personal instead of generic and the effort and small cost it will take to post a letter I believe will make a difference. I have maybe invested 1 hour into each of those young people's lives, but that 1 hour could mean more than anything.
I am not trying to boast, as I by no means think I have done more than what the youth leaders have been investing into these young people for years and years, but I just want to prompt us all to think about what little thing we could do to impact another. You might not think it will make a difference, but believe me that it can.