It took until I was almost 18 years old before I had my first great spiritual awakening, and even older before I started to see my responsibilities not just to Christ but to the vast crowds of people around me.
The gospel Christ brings us is a message of reconciliation, not just between us and God, but between us and one another. His desire is for the restoration of all our relationships, so that all of us can have community as it was intended to be. I lost a lot of my life before I began to understand that; I don't want my girls to miss out too.
So this summer, the girls have been actively volunteering at my side. We spent a few hours this past week helping with our church's project of rehabilitating some housing in the Nova Bastille area for people who needed the help, and we've spent most Monday evenings at Elijah's Promise, a soup kitchen here in Nova Bastille, where the girls have helped me take food to the clients, hand out meal tickets as people come in, and bundle up silverware for people to use when they eat.
It's been a great experience. Every time we go, there's usually at least one volunteer who hasn't seen them there before and who's wondering what I'm thinking by bringing them there.
I'm sure I could get some things done more efficiently if it weren't for having the girls with me, and sometimes Evangeline in particular has got underfoot of other volunteers by dancing when she should be standing to one side. But every night we've gone, I've seen the weariness on people's faces give way to smiles, and I've seen them enjoy the simple pleasure of seeing two little girls take an interest in them. In many ways, that's the greatest ministry that they provide.
But they're also growing up with real faith, and I hope it sticks with them. This isn't just something we do on Sundays or at mealtimes. Christ is real, and he makes a difference in us when we make a difference for others.
That's probably one of the best lessons of faith that I can give them.