To every single person whom has volunteered/worked in youth ministry/children’s ministry in any capacity,
Please hear those two words from every fiber of my being, from the very depths of my heart. Thank you for every moment, every word, every Bible story, every potato chip bag, every 2-liter bottle of soda you have shared. For, in this current moment in time, you HAVE NO IDEA the impact for which you are a part.
Recently, I reflected on the members of my youth group from Norcross First Baptist in Norcross, Georgia. If my current knowledge serves correct, there are three of us whom are employed by churches. Two are lead pastors and I am on our church staff as the Weekday Preschool. In addition, there are others from that group who publicly share how Christ is moving in their lives, even in seasons of great suffering–cancer battles, death, abrupt life changes, etc. Two of us are published authors. Several of us are still in church, serving, and make it a priority for our children and families to be involved in church.
When I think back on our rag-tag group, I smile. For, who would have thought that guy who loved to draw and always had a sketch pad with him, would one day be drawing on the hearts of his congregation each Sunday? Or that the one who wore way-oversized NFL jackets would expose his heart to congregations weekly? Or that the incredibly, awkward shy girl who hid behind teased hair and huge eyeglasses would be led by the Lord to teach an adult Sunday School class, and do what she loathes….write? No one. Or not me, at least. No one, but our Lord, knew what the future held (and still holds) for each of us.
And yet? They were there. The volunteers. The leaders. Those who loved us all despite our middle-school awkward selves, and later, our high-school busy selves. Those who made us stop to hear The Word. Those who persevered and taught The Word even when it was hard. Those who chaperoned the trips, spending time with me instead of their families. Those who stayed up late on youth events and shared with me about The Lord.
You may ask, did not your parents teach you about The Bible? Absolutely! Teaching the Bible was my dad’s passion. My mom would share with me when a Bible passage pricked her heart. Even still, I can remember sitting with a youth leader on a Disciple-Now weekend when she talked with me about the loneliness I felt, even when surrounded by a group of fellow students, at school. She explained to be about being set apart for something special, something that she believed God had for me in the future. I do not even remember who this person was, but I remember her words, her wisdom, her sharing the scriptures with me. This is what being involved in a church is all about–God using several people to pour into each student, seizing many, many opportunities for a child to know Jesus more.
This past weekend was an exciting weekend for 6th-12th grade students the greater Athens, GA area. It’s a multi-church event called “The Mix“. Hundreds of students gathered together for a time of worship and Bible teaching throughout the weekend. In between the sessions, the kids stayed in host homes. My husband and I hosted the boys from our church. Check out these pictures I snapped of a few areas of our home…of our couches and our dining room table:
Is not this just beautiful?!
It was to me.
Why? Because one day, one of the owners of these sleeping bags, duffle bags, and pillows could be the pastor of a church, an author, a missionary, or a father who shares Jesus with his children. That is what makes this beautiful. And me? I was glad to be able to be a part in such a very small way, for we just never know what is going to be the defining moment in a youth’s life for Christ.
So, to all the youth leaders, ministers and volunteers, THANK YOU!!! Keep on playing the weird, gross games, keep eating the heart-burn-causing-pizza, keep using shaving cream for ALL THE THINGS, keep enduring the smell of those whom have not quite mastered the deodorant-applying-art, keep serving, keep up the good fight, for in the end, your ears will hear those ever-coveted words, “Well done, my good, and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).
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