As the volunteer director at the Nelson Children’s Center in Denton, I have the opportunity to see some pretty awesome people with hearts as big as the needs we have. Nelson is a therapeutic residential center for severely abused, neglected, and troubled children, ages five to 15. Volunteers are a vital component of their care and treatment.
I was particularly humbled and blessed by a recent gift of love from Mandi Holmes, who is on the worship team of Cross Timbers Church-Denton. Cross Timbers is a large contemporary Christian church with three campuses across the northwest side of the Metroplex.
Mandi has spent the last seven Thursdays teaching guitar lessons to the Nelson Center girls. While this is an awesome blessing in general―especially since she continues to come faithfully and plans on being with us long-term―I was indescribably moved yesterday when I helped her set up for lessons in the library.
As she has come to know the girls over the weeks, Mandi has really developed a heart of love, compassion, and appreciation for them. The Nelson Center girls have been victims of atrocious physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, and by the time they arrive at the Nelson Center, they are scared, angry, emotionally exhausted, and acting out in desperation. Many girls have nearly lost all self-confidence, self-worth, and identity. Understanding and absorbing this, Mandi has written a song just for them. Mandi is a very talented worship leader and composer, so the notes that flowed from her guitar and the words she strung together were amazing.
Each verse of the song is about one of the girls in the guitar group and speaks of her beauty, potential, and special interests. The chorus is a whisper of hope for each girl:
Seasons change, they fade away but,
Faith, hope, and love, love remains
So when you feel afraid, don’t forget to say
‘Love will always, always stay the same.’
Needless to say, when I heard the song, my eyes welled up with tears. Working day-in and day-out with kids who have seen and experienced the “worst of the worst” helps you develop a tough exterior, not too prone to showing lots of sad emotion. But this got to me. Even more touching, one of our “toughest” and most hardened girls, “Allie,” had tears streaming down her face when she heard the verse that spoke of her deep inner beauty. Mandi’s music and lyrics made a deep and lasting impression on these young women. They will never forget it.