Never underestimate the power of being present, especially in the life of a child.
During the first week of July, a team from Timberline Church traveled to Hot Springs, Arkansas to serve at the Hillcrest Children’s Home. This residential care facility was founded in 1944 with the mission to rescue abused and neglected children, restore broken hearts, and rekindle hope in the name of Christ. Their life-changing ministry takes place through loving house parents in cottages.
The fourteen-member team, including eight teenagers, kept busy from dawn until well after dark Monday through Friday. Divided into groups of three or four, everyone helped paint twelve rooms in two cottages, two rooms in the administration building, and removed wallpaper in the conference room. Three team members ministered to the young women at Highlands Maternity Home while the teenagers on the trip organized a mini sports camp, games, and evening devotions for the residents.
On different days, the group traveled with several cottages to a bowling alley or a local amusement park. For the 4th of July, the team treated the kids to dinner and a minor league baseball game followed by fireworks. The week ended with a homemade ice cream social and the team blessed each cottage with an ice cream maker for future treats.
What impact did all of this activity have on the residents? Co-team leader Kari Stewart recalled talking to one young man who stated that “Nobody has ever taken us to do anything fun.” Thanks to the love shown by Timberline Church’s team, that statement is no longer true.
The 55 children living at the Hillcrest Children’s Home were not the only ones impacted by the trip. Teens Henry and Jack both reflected back on developing friendships and hanging out with the middle school boys. Abby was awed that the kids trusted her enough to share things that were personal in their lives. Cody enjoyed going to Magic Springs with the kids while Brooks recalled the ballgame and one little girl telling him “you are my best friend.” Beth enjoyed seeing the results of their work and how it affected those who lived in the rooms they painted. Jon was amazed at how thankful everyone was and felt proud of the work they accomplished.
Going into this trip, team members thought their focus would be on the resident children, but discovered another avenue of ministry through supporting and encouraging the house parents. While new relationships were formed and ongoing interactions are being explored, the team left Hot Springs knowing the impact of their trip was less about anything they said or did and more about simply being present.