“I heard somewhere that most men if they’re lucky have one person in their life that they can call a true friend - the person that they can talk to about absolutely anything,” Kevin says seriously, and his train of thought is obvious. “If lunch buddies grow, GFC men can be that one person for a Mountain View child.”
Though Kevin Taylor has been serving at GFC for over 8 years, it wasn’t until a few years ago that he decided to get involved with We Love Mountain View as a lunch buddy.
“I used to drink coffee with Carleton Lyon while he checked the kids in on Sunday morning,” Kevin laughs, describing his initial decision to serve at Grace. “And then my wife said, ‘Kevin, why don’t you just go do something else, because all you’re doing is talking and drinking coffee with Carleton.’” That was the nudge he needed to get plugged into the check-in process in Grace Kids. He stayed in that role for a long time until he and his wife transitioned into a new stage of life.
“We bought some land,” he explains, “And that took a lot of my time after church on Sundays. This place hadn’t been lived on in 20 years.” With this new phase, Kevin was searching for a different way to serve. Fortunately, we have a variety of serving opportunities that give GFCers the chance to decide what works best with their schedule.
For Kevin, who works traditional hours during the work week, a lunch buddy was the perfect fit. Lunch buddies visit Mountain View Elementary School once a week and sit at a separate table with the student, just hanging out and chatting. The student’s friends often crowd around the table, and Kevin has frequently overheard them comment to one another, “I want a lunch buddy!”
“It’s not about, you know, opening up the Bible and evangelizing,” Kevin emphasizes. “You’re just being yourself, representing Christ to them. You can make references to your faith. They will see something different in you. And if their eyes light up when they see you, it’s because they’re not lighting up when they see someone else.”
Lunch with his buddy doesn’t last long – only about 20 minutes – but he knows the potential impact in his buddy’s life goes far beyond one meal a week. In fact, he and his wife have developed a trusting relationship with his lunch buddy’s mother, who greatly values his influence in her son’s life. “His mom is all for it. She’s working full-time, and she likes that he has a man in his life… I can only imagine how a little kid yearns to have a relationship that’s never really going to be there with both his parents.”
The lunch buddy friendship grew slowly but surely as the pair got to know each other and as they built trust. “At first he was a little… energetic. But he’s calmed down a bunch since then. He just had some stuff going on in his head that distracted him. We engage more now. Just like any relationship, it was awhile before the hugs started. But now he kind of lights up when I come in the cafeteria. That makes me feel good, too – when someone else wants you to be there.”
Though right now Kevin only sees his buddy once a week, he hopes his friendship will continue to deepen. “My wife and I got permission from her for Sheri to pick him and a friend up and drive them to Camp in the City. I also asked her if one day I was taking my kids fishing, if she wouldn’t care if he came along… she was fine with it! We haven’t gone fishing yet, but I really wanna do that. He’s got no outlet for stuff like that.”
Kevin clarifies that as he continues. “His only interaction is with other kids in his neighborhood, and I know how that is. If you don’t get your advice and your questions answered from adults, you’re gonna get them from your peers. And though they mean well, an 8-year-old’s advice is not the advice he needs.”
Kevin’s relationship with his lunch buddy highlights one of the greatest strengths of the program – it can be whatever you want it to be. If all you have time for is lunch – then great! You are impacting that child’s life in a significant way. But if you want to take it a step further and build a deeper relationship with the family, you have the freedom to do so.
While the lunch buddy program clearly impacts the life of a child in need, it also has a profound effect on the adult buddy.
“This is a way for me to let a young person know that they’re not alone in making bad choices; that they can make mistakes. It’s also helped me to not be closed up, to be transparent, to see that the flaws in my own life can help someone else," Kevin describes.
And when we can be transparent – with ourselves and others, and ultimately before God - we’re well on our way to experiencing meaningful faith. “Things like this are always 2-sided,” says Kevin. “Both sides benefit from what we’re doing, because Christ is doing the work. If you just get off the couch and put yourself out there, you’ll find you like doing it and want to do more – it’s getting involved initially that is hard. But He is going to grow you. We are called to go out; we can’t stay in the confines of our family and the walls of the church, or else, who are we serving?
If you don’t want to be a Billy Graham all over the world, you can be the guy at Mountain View with one kid. You started it; Christ will finish it. And it doesn’t take much time – just wait and see what can happen with such a small amount of time.
Even if you don’t say anything when you’re there, just being there will change you. Who knows, maybe you’re the one that needs the lunch buddy!”
If you'd like to learn more about serving with our We Love Mountain View ministry, stop by the Operation Cooperation lobby table on Sunday mornings through May 23 or check out the opportunities online.
Posted on Tue, May 17, 2016
by Grace Fellowship Church