Free hotdogs at 6:00. This message was sprayed painted onto a white sheet and hung on the park fence in Shiloh, Ohio in June 2014. Our goal was to join Jesus in His work by connecting with the community in their comfort zone, not ours. Hotdogs in the Park has been in action for two summers. God is at work touching the lives of children and adults through a simple menu of hotdogs, chips, and lemonade at a small park in Shiloh.
During our second “Hotdogs in the Park” the question “do you want to play a game of knock out with us?” was asked to three teenage boys who were playing basketball. The church youth were suddenly and totally thrust out of their comfort zone. Guess what? They survived that game and were eager for the next Hotdogs in the Park to take place in August.
August brought more teenagers to the park. This resulted in a group decision to meet every Wednesday to play basketball. The group kept growing. Our exciting problem was what to do now that Autumn was approaching.
God had a plan! We were given a three hour time slot at the gym which is one street over from the park. Perfect.
We have been meeting in the gym for two years. There are anywhere between 10-25 kids/teenagers who show up to play basketball every Wednesday.
It really has been a simple way to be “the light of the world.” We play basketball for an hour, then we break for prayer. There have been people who have shared their testimonies. Sometimes we share a devotion or try to challenge them with the TRUTH. One of my favorite things to do is celebrate their birthdays with cupcakes, brownies, or ice cream.
Wednesday nights at the gym is a block of time when these kids can retreat from the cares of their worlds or they can unload their burdens. It is a sort of safe haven for them.
Last spring one of the boys shared a request. He said, “I lost my mom yesterday.” Shocking to say the least. Dan finished allowing the group to share their requests and then said, “Everyone’s request is important, but Bubba has suffered a great loss. So let’s all gather around him and pray for his family.”
Every teenager quickly and quietly gathered around this 17 year old young man and Dan prayed. It was one of those moments when one knows God is truly present, a most holy moment, one I will never forget.
A simple menu, a simple question, a simple game, a simple challenge of trust and a big, loving God equals lives being rescued from eternal death. God is at work……JOIN Him!!!