One of the many benefits our family has received from my time as a director at the YMCA was the opportunity to participate in all the programs the Y has to offer. From basketball to gymnastics to summer camp our boys have done it all. Although the children typically have been able to pick and choose what they want to do, we did have one mandatory program- swim lessons.
All of the boys have taken to the water in different styles. Logan was a bit reserved at first but soon came to the conclusion that swimming was fun. Isaiah attacked the water from day one. Even now his motor goes into overdrive when he jumps in the pool. Simeon, however, has been a different story. This past summer, we had a frightening experience at a public pool. From across the pool, Lydia and I watched as Simeon hopped out and took off down the waterslide into deeper water. I started running around the pool, a close friend heard Lydia yelling for help and began splashing through the water towards Sim, while the lifeguard continued to sun herself just five feet from where Simeon was struggling. Simeon was probably under the water for about ten seconds before we finally reached him. Needless to say, he was a mess. He wanted nothing to do with the pool for the rest of the day and wouldn’t leave Mom’s side.
That experience validated our desire for our kids to learn to swim and respect the water. So, as in the past, we enrolled the kids for swim lessons. To Simeon’s credit, as we prepped him for lessons in the fall he really didn’t show fear or trepidation leading up to the beginning of the session. That all changed when we got in the Y and walked to the pool. Simeon began to cry, he desperately clung to me and begged not to swim. I quickly informed him that he would be safe and that he had no choice because boys in our family need to know how to swim.
Two seven week sessions went by and our thirty minute lessons were still full of tears and fear. As parents, Lydia and I were struggling to be encouraging and yet still instill a sense of determination. At the start of the third session the lesson schedule changed and it wound up that Logan’s class ended at the same time Sim started his. After his shower, Logan sat down next to me. He wasn’t there for ten seconds before he asked if he could go down and sit next to Simeon. What happened next was one of those moments that, as a father, I will never forget.
Logan sat down and got as close to Simeon as he could. He put his hand on Simeon and began to encourage him, make jokes with him and act goofy. It was amazing, thirty minutes of love from his big brother and Simeon was having a grand time. That moment was a turning point. Since then there literally has not been one tear shed by Simeon in the pool.
As I was thinking about this moment the other day I realized how much Logan’s spirit reflects how we want to approach partnership at G.O. Ministries. You see, Logan wasn’t a great coach or instructor but he had a desire to see his brother succeed. He gave what he had to help Simeon. Logan gave encouragement, laughter and love. At that moment and time it was perfect.
When we look at ourselves and it can seem we don’t have much to offer. The truth is that in Christ we have all we need. For us, a partnership is just an investment in the life of another. The formation of a relationship based in Christ’s love where two or more are working towards a common goal. Because of the incredible partnerships that exist between North American individuals and churches and their Dominican or Haitian counterparts, many children and adults are finding hope daily to strengthen and further the Kingdom.
As I look back at my life, there have been quite a few times when I was the one in the pool crying. Fortunately, there always seemed to be a big brother on the deck telling me I could do it. I hope and pray that when you are in the pool crying, a big brother comes along to partner with you. And, may you be blessed to sit at the side of a pool and pour out love to a little brother who is convinced he is drowning.