Planting a Seed

By Tina Schramme
Children’s & Family Pastor
First UMC, Mansfield
 
When I met Derian Salinas, he was 5 years old and a challenge to most of our staff and volunteers. He would throw fits, hit other kids and run out of the classroom, sending adults chasing him out into the parking lot. Derian’s mom, Jessica, used to avoid the staff, thinking they were going to tell her she couldn’t drop Derian off at Sunday School anymore. Instead, they began to work with Jessica to find new ways of helping.
 
Eventually Derian learned to control his impulses and has since become a leader among his peers. Now 11 years old, he proudly told us about making the Robotics Team at school in October. But more importantly, this same kid, who could not stop acting out a few years ago, now says he felt bad for those students who did not make the team.
 
He said, “It’s hard to be excited when I know they are sad.”
 
Jessica said she visited other churches before landing here because she was intimidated by the size of First Methodist Mansfield. But once she and her mother and two kids started visiting First Mansfield, she quickly found a home. She realized the warmth and friendliness of our church overcame the number of people. Over time, Jessica reunited with her ex-husband, and he joined the church as well. Jessica says it was the grace offered to her at First Methodist Mansfield that allowed her to offer grace to Joe. They learned to forgive each other and were recently remarried. Now the whole family is here every week, either volunteering or participating in some way.
 
Jessica wants others to know that the church is not for perfect people. It’s for everyone, even those whose lives are a mess. “When we were broken,” she said, “the church was there for us like a second family. They welcomed us with open arms and helped us find a way forward.”
 
There were lots of others along the way who helped make a difference in the lives of the Salinas family, but it was in the church where they found the grace and mercy they needed to heal.