Last night was the most exciting, crazy, exhausting, bizzare part of my week. After all, when else does a marshmallow dodgeball game end with everyone getting covered in flour? When else would nametages get artistically stuck to a car (sorry, J!)? When else do you have to scramble to find scissors to release a mound of teenagers from a tangled mess of green yarn? When else do you laugh yourself dizzy over planned activities that turn to hilarious chaos, and then catch your breath enough to say, "Ok, what was I thinking? Maybe that wasn't such a good idea! Note to self..." If you have ever worked in youth ministry, you already know the answer.
Just one evening with fourteen teenagers from Sudan, Chad, Somolia, and Burma made me remember how much I love youth ministry. I love taking time to talk with teens, whether they are sitting out of a game because they broke a nail or they are trying to slink off to lock-pick a volunteer's car with a paperclip (again - sorry, J!). I love affirming their good choices and their talents, I love listening to them talk to each other and tell me their stories, I love being able to give them responsibilities they can do to help and make a difference.
I also love being a part of a team of people who are also passionate about serving teens - people who spend an hour driving around picking up kids in a big van, people who sit in a garage with one kid and patiently help them with their math homework all evening, people who take the time to learn to speak the language of a younger generation that needs to be understood... people who are there to brush the flour off your back at the end of the night.
Youth ministry - at its very best - is tough. You feel highs and lows every day... you learn what it means to pray without ceasing for the kids who have become your family... you have your heart broken and your hope renewed over and over again. There is nothing quite like it... nothing quite so beautiful and blessed. And I'm so glad I get to be a part of it. Pray for the teenagers who come to International House - pray that as we build relationships with them that they will see Jesus and be drawn to him. And if you haven't already, try out serving in a youth ministry somehow, whether in a big group or investing in one teenager. It's an experience you won't regret.