Today I’m doing a little compare and contrast. The picture on the left was taken last summer, the morning after returning from a week of CIY. The picture on the right was taken of me this morning, the morning after returning from a week of CIY. It goes without saying that this trip, for me, was the most enjoyable trip I have ever taken as a youth leader.
If you’d like a great summary of our trip, the best thing for you would be to go to http://nopoyo.tumblr.com where you’ll find the proverbial thousand words. (Warning: you’ll be viewing our trip backwards. That’s just how a tumblr works.) However, as a writer, I’m a firm believer that there are things that can’t be explained through pictures and such things are also those things which made this trip so wonderful:
— We had fun. Last Sunday afternoon, the youth leaders sat in a circle in our living room and prayed for the trip. Most of the time we spent asking God to make this trip fun, to build friendships, to awaken community within our rather fragmented group. I’m carving out this space on the internet in order to praise God for answering this prayer. I think God gave the leaders supernatural energy, strength, and creativity so that we could make fun moments for the kids. Perhaps for the first time in the history of our youth ministry, the kids cried uncle before we did. These fun moments included water fights covering the area of an entire dorm, a giant mattress slip’n’slide, finding all the deep spots in a creek, playing Werewolf deep into the night, many rounds of Wah, BS (you know, “Bible Study”), Hanky Panky, The Sign Game and The Picnic Game, and *ahem*, an all girl wrestling tournament.
— Tom Nobis, the leader of Know Sweat, gave us a quote at the beginning of our week to try to instill in the kids. “Superiority, masked in the act of service, is still superiority.” After spending a week wondering how to communicate this to the students, I was blown away by how God taught us this lesson. Dave, the man whose house we were painting, was the kind of man in whose presence it is impossible to feel superior. He was kind, clean, gentle and strong. He took off an entire morning of work in order to paint alongside us. On the final day, he cleared his throat and gathered us around him. With tears streaming down his cheeks, he spoke to us of his gratefulness for receiving a gift that he did not deserve, just as we had all received a gift that we do not deserve from Jesus. “We’re all in the same boat,” he said. What a humbling, realistic portrait of the poverty that we all possess and the grace that has been poured out on us.
— For the first time in the year and a half that Logan has been working at North Point, it actually felt like the kids and youth leaders treated him like the youth minister and that they actually liked that he was their youth minister. This was made clear on Wednesday night when, during a game at the main session, Tom Nobis asked all the youth ministers to stand up. When Logan stood up, the kids cheered, screamed “Logan!”, and pumped their fists. They were proud that he was their youth minister. Although we did not get to talk about it at the time, I’m sure you can imagine that this was a very special moment for both Logan and for me.
Trips are always taxing and this trip was not any different. But instead of feeling utterly deflated and spent this morning, I feel energized, excited about youth ministry, even eager to spend more time with some kids. As Rachael would say, “Hallelujah!”