As Club 218 comes to a close after another great summer, Kirsten Grorud, the person who started the program, talks about the influence Club 218 has had on her life.
I have been so blessed to be back at Faith Lutheran this summer, working as the Youth and Children’s Ministry Intern and spending a lot of time working with the Club 218 program. Club 218 and I have a long and eventful history together. I began the program when I was 16 after attending a Youthworks mission trip similar to the New Orleans trip last month. The mission trip I attended was to West Virginia, and it brought me face to face with rural poverty. During one of our evening activities, another student in my group made the comment, “I hate to admit this, but I know that a few weeks after I get home, this won’t be a big deal to me anymore.” That comment was a crushing reality check. One that I knew was as true for me as it was for anyone.
And then, as I was sitting, looking at an activity that was designed to help us understand poverty, and thinking of this friend’s comment, the Lord gave me a vision. Having been raised a good Scandinavian-Lutheran, I was used to a quiet, simple idea about faith, not things like visions or the audible voice of God. But in the years since Club 218 was given to me, I have never found a better word to describe what came over me — a fully-formed plan, one that I could picture in my mind’s eye, was suddenly pressed into my heart. I could feel the Lord saying “This is what I ask of you.” As I was reading Scripture that night, I came across the verse below from the book of James. Its timing confirmed the vision and gave us our name — Club 218.
“Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by what I do.”
– James 2:18, New Living Translation
Club 218 seeks to serve families in need here, in Hutchinson. However, it is not only a program that has affected many children and families, it has also radically impacted many of our youth who comprise our summer staff. The staff’s consistency and commitment to these elementary-school children has created roles models, young leaders, and a most of all, a community of people who believe that the burden and privilege of the Christian life is to seek and serve Christ in all people, especially our neighbors.
I can picture in my mind the face of a child from Club 218 whom I have gotten to see grow up. I have no blood or legal relation to this child. He regularly, willingly disobeys me when I tell him to do things like wash his hands before lunch, or not to run in the street. And yet, I love this child. I love him more than I knew was possible before Club 218. This child can not comprehend that I love him and want what’s best for him, and yet if he was, once again, chasing a ball into the street, I would throw myself in front of a car for him. In my own times of doubt and devastation, I often come back to the face of this child. If this is how much I can love a child, how much more must Christ love me? I am a sinful, prideful, selfish person. I may be the most selfish person I know. And so much as I love this child, the Lord has to love me more. He has to.
Mission trips can change lives in a radical way. One such trip changed mine. Pray for the youth who traveled to New Orleans to be changed as well.
Club 218 is changing lives in a sometimes invisible, often unglamorous way. Pray that this daily service would continue to build community and point towards the love of God. My life has never been the same, and I am so thankful.