I’m such a sucker for a teenager. Everyone else tends to be driven crazy by their: volume, drama, he said- she said stories, hormones, chaos, and free spirits. I run to it, I eat it up! They really just want someone to help them feel safe, loved, and someone who will help them find the right way. Let’s face it—as a Youth Ministry major, I essentially got my degree in Lock-Ins, Camp, Messy Games Day, Vacation Bible School, Small Group Bible Study, Mission Team training, and Team Building. Some of my favorite ministry moments have been alongside a lot of middle school and high schoolers. One of the longest nights of my life was spent listening to teenage girls pour out their hearts. While my heart was broken into a million pieces for them—I was incredibly aware of the Holy Spirit moving in that room full of pajama wearing, make-up smeared faces. Lately, I’ve been a little removed from the teen scene. I had forgotten how much I miss it until this past week.
I work in Admissions for a local college. One of the things that we began to do three years ago was take the Admissions process to our local high schools. We decided that they may test better and perhaps even be more comfortable with talking to us if we were on their stomping grounds. What we affectionately call “On-Site Admissions” was born and we have only been proven to have made the right move more and more each year. Over the past week, we’ve been in three of our four locations.
Last week, a couple of us cried with a girl who shared how one of her parents recently passed away and now the other one is quickly losing their battle with cancer. I also met a boy who called me “ma’am” every single time he said something to me as we talked about Campus Ministry opportunities on our campus. He ended our conversation by saying, “I look forward to serving with you, ma’am.” Yesterday, I got to talk with a girl who shared that she’s basically raising her brother and can’t take the full-ride she was offered to UGA on a softball scholarship. Today, after hearing the “heavy” stories at the other schools, it was oddly “refreshing” when I talked with boys who have no idea what they want to do in life but they’re really excited about it.
While each school has had their own unique markings of an On-Site experience, there is still one common thread—God had me on their campuses on purpose. I know I’ve already said it, but I really am such a sucker for a teenager. If I’m honest, I don’t get too excited about serving, teaching, or working with any other age. I know it sounds weird, but On-Site this year has taught me that I need to see everyone I come in contact with as I would a teenager. Truth be told, all anyone really wants is to feel safe, loved, and helped as they find the right way. I know the right way is whatever way Jesus is headed. It’s my job to lead people to Jesus. While my heart is teenagers, I may not always be in that setting. I need to learn to be faithful in whatever setting I’m placed, for however long it lasts…