This is the second time we have shared our home with a RAM student. We do life by doing the next right thing. Housing a RAM student just seemed like the next right thing. There was no real discussion. We just did it. This time our RAM student stayed on as an intern for 4th and College for two additional months. The time flew by. Summer in Oklahoma is a busy time. During RAM, our students spent most of their time working in other surrounding communities with other RAM students which only further strengthens the bond they have in Christ and with one another.
We are empty-nesters living in a small house that gets warmer than most in the summer. Why do we do it? As parents of three grown children, we would want someone else to do the same thing for our children in a similar situation. Yes we were strangers, but we no longer are. Basically all they need is a place to sleep and a place to clean up after a hard day. Anyone with a spare room has exactly what is needed. You need to be understanding and caring; and respect their privacy. You need to be willing to allow them to be who they are and flexible and tolerant enough to accept some inconveniences. They are college students. They probably will not eat or sleep at normal times. But the blessings far outweigh the inconveniences.
RAM students bring life and joy back to struggling congregations. Each one of them has a special gift to share and their own reasons for participating in RAM. Stop by and just ask them, they are here for church members as much as they are for the community. Take them for a meal and spend some time with them and you will catch a glimpse of that joy and probably want just a little bit more. In one such visit this year one of the girls said that she came from a small town church and all she sees there is apathy, but she did not see it here. The difference here is a caring circle of people who take time to know the students while they are here; share in their victories and share in their struggles. They help us so much more than we could ever offer them.
Yes as a house parent you might have to deal with normal emotional troubles that come along. It seems like when RAM students arrive and begin touching lives, so does Satan. There will be car problems, illnesses and deaths; rain storms, tornadoes and floods and all sorts of other complications to the plans we have made in advance for the RAM students to help with. So be prepared to be flexible because things will not go as planned. Bathe everything you do in prayer and strive to do the next right thing.
This year, during the actual RAM month we barely saw Janelle, she was busy and gone doing something that entire month. She sat at our dinner table once when she arrived and not again until after RAM had ended. However, we did from time to time meet up with various RAM students for a meal wherever they were working. This time we were committed to meet and spend time with as many RAM students, in various towns, as possible because we believe in the mission of Rural America Ministries. We were lucky enough along the way to connect with other RAM host families who had similar stories of being blessed by their presence. It was nice to know there are others who share our goals for this ministry. Due to the busy summer season, however, we were not completely successful with this plan. We will visit the Seymour congregation on our way to Abilene next month. We will commit to the same challenge next summer. We regret that we were unable to meet the two female RAM students at Seymour. We are afraid that being friends on Facebook is not the same as meeting them in person.
So when you feel that little tug on your heart when asked to help with housing a RAM student, step over those fears and see the blessings that are ahead. We end this summer, looking forward to the next RAM adventure in Southwest, Oklahoma.