You might not be surprised when I say that part of my job in ministry is to think.
Which student should I go talk to? Why did she say that? How do I communicate best what we do? Which student is sitting alone? How can I make her feel safe? Do I listen or speak right now? What do I do? How can I chip away at her walls? How do I connect volunteers with kids? How do I find volunteers? How can I connect with them? What should I write about this week?
This is the first year that our YFC chapter is in a public middle school. I have to say that it has required a lot of thinking, strategy, creativity, and dependence on the Holy Spirit. Middle schoolers are awkwardly navigating through life in every sense of the definition of awkward.
Some are nervous about leaving what they’ve known and entering high school. And some are going through more trauma, grief, and anxiety that it is a wonder they can function as students. Some can’t.
We currently have 4 girls and 4 boys in our mentoring program at Liberty Middle School. The school has asked us to meet with them every day during 6th period… an opportunity that was won through a lot of prayer and building trust. The students have been chosen by the school and are all struggling in some way. Paige (YFC staff) and I alternate days with the girls and Will (YFC staff) meets with the boys every day.
We recently sat down with the Dean of Students to learn more about the stories of the students. We learned that one of the boys was struggling with fits of anger due to the passing of his dad in a car accident last year. We had noticed one of the boys who was originally attending had stopped coming. We learned he has gone to virtual learning due to not being able to function… at one point he was found in the hallway rolled into a ball and unable to speak. The Dean shared that the newest girl student in our group doesn’t speak much and has very dysfunctional parents. I met her for the first time last week and by some miracle she shared with me part of her story. The nightmare of what she has experienced left me in tears as I drove away from the school.
Our prayer is that God would use the time we have with these students every day to be a tangible expression of His love toward them. We might not have the freedom to go as spiritually deep within a public school, but God is moving regardless of the confines of a system.
One of the boy students recently expressed, “This feels like a Jesus class”. Jesus had not been mentioned at all. When Will asked what sparked that comment the boy replied, “I’m not sure… it just feels different… kind of like it felt when I used to go to church on Sunday mornings”.
We pray these students would see Jesus in and through us.
God is working!