Children and youth leaders in the church have the most influential jobs outside the home. In my book, teachers would be next. But the role of leaders in children’s church and youth groups have had the most impact on my life!
In my early elementary years I remember going to church with my grandma (dad’s mom) I remember my Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Eve. Short black curly hair and big oversized gold glasses. I remember the room felt like a dungeon. No windows and the room was big enough for a whole 6-8 bodies. I can’t recall specific studies per say but I do know that in that tiny little Sunday School room is where I learned classic bible stories like Noah’s Ark, David and Goliath, and Daniel in the lions den. My teacher even took my sister and I under her wing to teach us Amazing Grace on the piano. I didn’t retain that one unfortunately. But the fond memories will have a place in my heart.
We moved towns when I was in 5th grade. And with that new 20 minute commute came a new church. Not totally new because thats where my other grandma had gone and we visited several times. Now this part is crazy! I don’t remember a single thing I was taught! But I remember the way Mrs. Lynell made me feel. Aside from family, Mrs. Lynell was the first person that seemed to be truly interested in my spiritual well being. Her warm hugs and stern demeanor just poured love. I felt at home. She wasn’t afraid to call you out for talking while she was teaching. Like a mother who was tired of telling you to put all 4 legs of the chair down on the floor. She was tough but we needed that. Someone else to care about us as much as our parents did, but when it’s not your parents, you seem to respect them a tad but more. Remember that feeling? Maybe it was the “if I act up she gonna tell my mom or grandma and then I’ll really be in trouble!” Either way, it was a great feeling!
When I was 12 we moved from Arkansas to Arizona. I hadn’t even reached my teenage years yet and I was devastated because I had been looking forward to the youth group back home. All the cool kids where in the youth group and they seemed to be more like siblings than church mates. The bond they had stemmed from youth leaders like Mama J and her husband Jody. Talk about caring for your spiritual well being!! From your past that makes you, you. To caring about the future spouse God has chosen for you. Nothing was left uncared for. My brother, twin sister and I were blessed to be apart of this church family every summer we went back for a visit. That visit was the shortest month of our lives every single year. We learned about purity, relationships, and our purpose in Christ. We were alive to share the gospel of Jesus! And we lived that every day we were there! Serving meals to workers building the new church. Attending revivals, youth gatherings and church camp with other churches. There was no denying we were children of God! Seriously some of the best days of my life!
We church hopped a bit while we settled into our new life in Arizona. As a “kid” then, we had no idea really why our parents chose the churches they did. But once we met youth leaders Ken and Lucy, we knew we were home! 1,000 miles away of our beloved church family in Arkansas, this is where we belonged the other 11 months of the year. It was then that I learned to truly praise God for all he had done in my life. I worshiped through modern Christian music and drug every friend I had to church with me. I was proud to be a daughter of the most high King! We acted skits for the “big church” and danced to creative movements. We bonded with the church elders and attended the most amazing church camps! Yes all my friends were there so that of course made me want to go. But I belonged. I belonged to something that was bigger than myself.
And because of that, my heart longs to be apart of something bigger now that I am an adult too! I’m not gonna lie. I lost my way after graduating high school and moving out. I’d say probably a good 10 years of trying to make it on my own without God. I might have mentioned “God please let me get this job.” But that was the extent of my prayers. And after I had my daughter, I realized that I couldn’t do it on my own. I never could no matter what I tried. I knew that I wanted her to have that same church upbringing as I did. I wanted her to know that other people care about her spiritual well being and where she will spend eternity. I want her to have Christian friends that will lead her down the right path when mom and dad aren’t looking.
So I decided to get involved in the church that I have been going to for just over a year now. I love it there! Every time I walk out the doors I think, God was speaking directly to me today! I asked how I could help in the children’s ministry and I look forward to going to church every Sunday! We have 2 services and I love that! I get to attend one sermon and teach the kids during the other. I want to be a Mrs Lynell or a Mama J or a Lucy to these little ones. To develop a relationship with them as someone they can count on and trust. And I would love your prayers in this! God is good and working miracles every single day! I am so thankful for the blessing he has given me and the experiences and trials he has put in my path so that I can share and be a blessing to someone else. Thank you God!