Two weeks ago, after things had settled down a bit and we’d had some time to adjust to life as parents, we started hosting Discipleship Group again for anyone on the team who was interested. Just like in past years, we presented this as an open invitation to anyone on the team.
Our vision is for these guys to have a safe, comfortable place to go as they navigate their new lives as young men, many of whom are away from home for the first time. We want to provide them with a place that feels a little like “home”—give them a sense of family, a dog to play with, and a home cooked meal. With that sense of comfort intact, we hope to also guide them and mentor them as they explore some of life’s tough questions, and we strive to model faith in God and point them toward answers they can find in His Word. In this process, we also hope their relationships with each other will deepen, and they will know who on the team they can turn to when they are struggling or just need some encouragement.
(I should mention that we’ve also hosted dinners for pitchers in the past, and this year we’ve decided to discontinue that and focus our energy only on Discipleship Group. This also means we’re hosting dinner only every other week rather than every week, which helps us ease the transition into parenthood both physically and financially.)
When we re-started this for the new year on September 13, we were in awe of what God was doing. We had seventeen guys (from a team of 32) show up in our home.
We ran out of food. We made spaghetti, homemade bread, Caesar salad, and cupcakes. (Cupcakes that tasted fine but did not look very good, I should mention.) And we ran out. We ran out of everything except cupcakes. Several people didn’t get any salad. No one had more than one piece of bread, and some people didn’t get any. Before everyone even had a first helping, we started boiling more water and scrounging through our cupboards for any types of pasta. We emptied macaroni boxes of just their noodles. We broke lasagna noodles into smaller pieces. It was frantic and a bit stressful. It was among my top most embarrassing moments as a coach’s wife. I felt like a failure, to be honest.
Seventeen guys got to hear about the love of God. Seventeen! As in past years, we didn’t have too much of an agenda for the first evening together. We shared a bit of our vision
They asked thought-provoking questions about what people thought of when they said or heard the name of God. Many who responded to that question emphasized love. Another asked, “What do you do when you lose your faith?” We got to share about how God relentlessly chases after us and seeks to give us his love. We shared our own experiences with this as well as examples from the Bible.
And when the night was over and everyone had left, we agreed that the numbers would likely dwindle after the first meeting as they had in the past. We agreed that this would also be due partly to the issue of not having enough food. And we agreed that dwindling numbers would be just fine, and we would continue to host Discipleship Group even if only one guy came.
Yesterday we asked for a head count so that we could try to avoid the food shortage issue again. Twenty-five guys said they planned to come. TWENTY-FIVE. Everyone who came last time planned to come again despite the food shortage debacle, and EIGHT more wanted to come as well. My husband said, “We’ll need more chairs.” I said, “We’ll need a bigger house.”
We might not know what we’re doing most of the time, but clearly, He does.
Now it’s time to pray there’s enough food tonight. If He can feed five thousand with five loaves and two fish, I trust He can feed twenty-five male collegiate athletes.