I didn’t expect to spend a week in Atlanta, GA, serving a small community of children. Student Life was not-at-all on my summer radar. God knew I needed to go, though, and I’m so glad that He made it happen.
This is the group of young’uns I got to hang with that week. Love them! I have never enjoyed a group of teenagers more than this group of teens. My two teens are in there. In other news, I have TWO TEENAGERS!!
This was my first experience with Student Life; I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do other than make sure the kids were safe and where they were supposed to be, which wasn’t difficult because, as I already mentioned, this was a fantastic bunch that wanted to be there and participate in everything.
David Nassar was the speaker for the week. He was alright. I’m not going to lie: I was concerned on Monday night. Concerned to the point of considering whether or not it was fruitful to have our group attend the rest of the corporate worship sessions. As in almost asking Colby what he thought about doing all the teaching/preaching for our group every night that week. (I wasn’t alone in my concern, either, so it wasn’t just me being overly critical). But his words improved each night. By the time Thursday rolled around, I can honestly say that Nassar preached the gospel and it was good.
The theme was “The Kingdom.” Dramatists performed interesting sketches based on Jesus’ parables of the kingdom, short movies focused on the kingdom, the preaching focused on the kingdom, and we sang about the kingdom.
Kristian Stanfill led the singing each night. This guy is such an energetic singer and worship leader. learned some new-to-me songs that the kids (my 2 teens) and I enjoyed singing as we drove around Atlanta. That is, when they weren’t too cool to ride with their mom. I think my favorite song was “Children of Light.” (I can hear it blaring from my son’s room right now).
We lived on the Georgia Tech campus. The girls enjoyed pretending to be college students for the week. It reminded me of my first overnight experience in a college dormitory — very fun and grown-up feeling.
This was our view of the Atlanta skyline from the dorm. It was quite lovely to see the sunrise on the way to breakfast each morning. I had hoped to get a photo of the sunrise Friday morning, but due to an unfortunate (albeit hilarious) smoke detector mishap in the wee hours of Friday morning, I overslept.
After breakfast each morning, we were encouraged to spend some time reading our Bibles and praying. Colby directed us to John 1 and Colossians 1 for focused attention on what the Bible tells us about Jesus in those passages.
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He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
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Before the various groups left campus to wherever they were assigned to serve, we met with our coordinators. Our group was assigned to Noel’s group. And let me tell you, this girl was awesome! She spoke from her heart — she spoke out of the overflow of what God was doing in her life — she delivered some hard truths — she demonstrated an understanding of the full council of God’s word — she shared how she was submitting herself to God’s word. I was impressed; I only know a handful of young women like that.
But shouldn’t she be the rule and not the exception for the kind of woman we expect to see after being raised in a sound Christian church?
When she visited our ministry site, she jumped right in with what we were doing. I overheard her share the gospel with one of the kids. So unlike me (talk and talk and then try to work Jesus into the conversation), she just struck up a conversation and BAM! “Do you know Jesus? Let me tell you about him.”
Like, it really is that simple.
Simple. I didn’t say easy.
I spent the week engaging with one particular 14 yo girl. We talked about all kinds of things! But any time I steered the conversation to the spiritual, she shut down. She stopped making eye-contact, she wouldn’t answer questions with anything more than a yeah or no, she’d step away from me. Then, I’d go back to Pokemon, and she’d light up again. She sat in during the Bible study times and she was given a copy of John, so I just hope and pray that she reads it.
The pictures below show a little bit of what we did every day. We sang songs, we played and played, we painted, we colored, we blew bubbles, we shared Bible stories and the gospel, and we did our best to stay cool. Our youth group was paired with a group from Virginia. Many new friendships were made. Thanks to the wonder of the internet, staying in touch will be easy.
(If you click on the mosaic, a slideshow will open)
Friday, we spent the day at Six Flags over GA (and traveling home). We had a GREAT time at Six Flags, but I don’t have any pictures because I didn’t take a camera into the park.
I will share one thing: I experienced my very first “This ride is experiencing minor technical difficulties. Please blah, blah, blah….” I-didn’t-hear-anything-else-because-I-was-having-a-mental-freak-out experience.
Y’all. Benjamin and I were in the second row of seats. The coaster pulled up to the chain that takes us to the top of the ride…and stopped. As in, would not engage, shut down, not moving, stopped.
I wave my hand to get the attendant’s attention. “Are you going to let us off?”
“No, ma’am. We can’t do anything right now.”
And it occurred to me: they’re just going to turn it off and on again. Just reboot and see what happens, right? We are going to be the “test ride.” All I could think was I hope it doesn’t run on Vista.