Working with youth is unlike anything else that a person can experience. Working with youth is sorta like being a youth—it’s either sublime or traumatic. Even though my job is primarily in administration, I also get to experience some of the sublime moments… Seeing teenagers experience the Presence of God in the midst of intense praise and worship… Watching kids praying with each other for healing… And kneeling at the altar, weeping with young people as they meet Christ and feel His love for the first time… There’s just nothing like it and I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything.
But then, there are days like today…
This morning, I learned that over the weekend, we lost two youth from our Conference. One, a teenage boy, had recently beaten brain cancer. The other, a 22-year-old girl was set to graduate from Bible college in 7 days and who had just returned from a semester in the mission field in Africa. Both of them were killed in car accidents this weekend.
These two kids are not kids that I’ve met personally, though most of my staff know them. But the sadness hit me as though they were two of my own. And for a moment, I just wanted to pack my gear and say, “Lord, I can’t handle this. If this is what it means to work with youth, then maybe I don’t have what it takes.”
My blog friend, Billy Coffey, recently commented to me about making a list of “Things to Ask God” when we get to Heaven. This will be on that list.
Today was a tough day for a lot of people. There are broken hearted families and devastated youth. My heart goes out to them and my prayers are certainly with them. In praying for them and in asking God how to deal with this in my own heart, I came to a decision: I’m going to trust God to do something through their lives even now that they’re gone.
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. – John 12:24
This is one of the times that the answer isn’t obvious or easy. I don’t understand why young people die—especially young Christian people. But I have to believe that God can still use them for His purposes. And that’s the hope that will carry me until I meet God face to face.
On a lighter note…
I’ve got “youth stuff” on my brain lately and I suppose I should warn you that it’ll probably be this way on and off through about September. By May 15th I’ll have something like 800-1,000 youth camp registration forms on my desk at work. On June 11th these 800-1,000 kids will begin flooding into the little town where I work. I will be their official hostess and will spend the rest of the month of June with a cell phone on one hip and a walkie-talkie on the other, giving out hugs and nametags and advice (though not necessarily in that order). And taking them to Urgent Care if they crash on the skatepark or turn up the pressure on their paintball guns too high. If the past serves as any indicator, I will probably work somewhere around 200 hours over that three weeks…
As soon as I finish with youth camp, July will arrive and I’ll spend a weekend packing up a 16-person medical mission team. On July 5th we’ll hop on a plane at RDU Airport and head south to the Dominican Republic. Over 8 days, we will probably see somewhere around 1,500 patients. We will also be doing children’s ministry and evening crusade services.
Now, I don’t want you to think that I’m complaining. I promise I’m not! This is what my May/June/July is always like and I LOVE it! And it also makes for some very fascinating blog fodder! I’ve already started receiving prank threats from my camp staff… And there’s a decent chance that I’ll get to post some blogs directly from the mission field—which would be WAY cool! So, you’ll definitely want to keep an eye on this blog for the next couple of crazy months, because you just never know what’s gonna happen when you work with youth.