I’m not sure when it was that I became old enough to consider others “the youth” but regardless, the youth of the Lilesville Charge have been my constant resurrection this summer. They have showed me life when I was blind to it, and they have given me life when I felt like I was decaying.
It all started with my first Sunday in Lilesville, which happened to be Youth Sunday. What a beautiful introduction it was- filled with each youth sharing their particular gifts and testimonies. Then throughout my first couple of weeks, when attending church potlucks and other such events, exhausted from the awkwardity that accompanies repeatedly introducing myself I would seek out the youth to go and join them, relaxed and re-energized by their presence.
The summer progressed and I had/created many opportunities to spend time with the youth of Lilesville charge. Between the cliché council meetings about cemetery plots and finances, I thrived off of their excitement for being at church and was consistently inspired by their liveliness, particularly at 4 am as we continued to play Sardines. Amidst four seemingly struggling churches, these youth are not floundering in the least. They are passionate about God and growing in their relationship with God, and I see the face of God in each of them.
Allow me to introduce you to a few:
One young man walks to church even when his family does not attend or he has no ride. He is there, Sunday after Sunday.
Another young woman is musically gifted and helps many Sundays with music. She was my saving grace one particular Sunday when my supervising pastor and the music lady were both out of town.
Another young man has a gift for evangelism, well actually, they all do. At every single youth event we had, they brought friends. This summer I have gotten to know the youth’s friends just as well as the youth. There were always just as many friends of the youth as there were youth at each event. If only this habit could be absorbed by the rest of the congregation!
Another young man, just graduated from high school has a gift for mentorship. From what I hear, he has led the others throughout his high school career and I witnessed him this summer seek out God-centered discussions with the others, directing their not just those conversations but also their hearts.
What’s more is in our smallest of the four churches, which averages at a five-person membership, the trained lay speaker is in fact fourteen years old. His animation and impressive insights excite me to see what is in store for the rest of his life.
On the whole, the youth consistently embodied not only a “can-do” but a “will-do” attitude, and with a happy demeanor I should add. For example, one evening at VBS, I had asked some adults to help with a particular activity, but they deemed their assistance unnecessary and continued to catch up on some gossip, all the while the youth were coming up to me recurrently asking what else they could do to help.
Plus, they are all gifted in seeing symbols of God, their relationship with God, and how God is moving. Many times this summer, we have provided opportunities for them to share different symbols of their walk with God; their responses illustrated self-awareness and God-awareness, which consistently moved me deeply.
Inspired by each of their gifts and talents that they not only bring but also fearlessly employ, I praise God that I was able to see the face of God in each of these youth. And, I fear that while many adults are frantically searching for the youth within the church walls, the youth are busy out being the church. I think we could all use a little youth-like faith and follow in their footsteps.
Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. -1 Tim 4:12. Amen.
Another day in the life in Lilesville.