Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Ministry Roller-Coaster

We're in the midst of preparing for our school-year kickoff for Glue (our youth group). We took the last three weeks off of youth group, and due to camping trips, etc., I hadn't seen some of the kids for a while. But yesterday and today I saw a lot of them, and it was a great example of the roller coaster that is youth ministry.

Yesterday the rollercoaster plummetted downward. At 11:00 AM I caught some kids smoking behind the church. At 12:00 PM one of my students shared with me about a drinking binge last week that ended with a trip to the hospital due to possible alcohol poisoning. But it was at 1:00 PM that the cops, fire truck and paramedics showed up. One of the students had been involved in a domestic dispute (thank God for divine protection--no one needed to go to the hospital). Yesterday left me on my face before God begging him to protect these students and to preserve them and draw them into close fellowship with himself.

Today the rollercoaster soared skyward. I took three of the core students with leadership abilities out to lunch to talk about ideas for the upcoming year. Among other things, they told me they wanted to (1) memorize more verses and hold one another accountable to applying them to their lives, (2) be involved in consistent service projects, and (3) perhaps go on a mission trip. Then one of them said that before they went on a mission trip, she thought that they should "practice" by hosting a student-led 5-day Bible club in a local neighborhood where the students would plan the games and teach the lessons. I was so encouraged! They also agreed to take on some responsibilities at the weekly meetings, which will help them grow and gain a greater sense of ownership of the youth group. My heart can't stop grinning (if hearts can grin). Today left me raising my hands to the Lord and thanking him for working in the lives of these young people, and for giving me the privilege of serving them.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Jr. High Girls Camp 2006!!!

It's all over. We spent months and months planning and praying and preparing, and in one [relatively] short week, it was over!

It was a hard week--especially the first few days. There was actually a lot of controversy over the Hot Topics (our evening chapels were dedicated to addressing things like Friends & Gossip, Depression & Suicide, Media, Relationships, Beauty & Body Image). People wondered if the girls were too young or the topics too deep, if the presenters were experienced enough, if the counselors were old enough to handle tough questions, if the camp was sufficiently equipped to provide assistance to any girls who needed serious help. By the end of the first couple days, I was so nervous I had a giant knot in my stomach. But Amber and I felt that the Lord was leading us to address the tough issues directly, so we pushed on.

And I am so glad that we did! At the Friday campfire girl after girl shared about how they had been challenged and encouraged by the Hot Topics. It was such a blessing! I'm so glad we followed God's leading instead of giving up when things got difficult.

Anyway, I'm home now. I'm going through camp-withdrawl. My apartment seems so empty and lonely this week. But Amber & Andrew have been kind enough to frequently include me in their family activities. So I'm okay. :-) Plus I have Jesus, so I'm really okay.

Thank you, Lord for an awesome week. You worked things together that we could never have done. Help the girls to continue to grow and seek you throughout the year. Amen.