When I first joined this ministry, I was pleasantly surprised to be introduced to two, youthful, very lively, retired ladies. I’d soon learn that while they don’t fly under the title of staff, these two amazing women are lovingly (and quite appropriately) referred to as volunteer staff. Kim and Sue have been volunteering with our ministry for 7 years. They serve side by side with us in so many ways and we are incredibly grateful for who they are and all they bring to this ministry!
Kim and Sue, can you share what it is you do with our ministry?
K: Once a week, Sue and I lead a girls Bible study at West Central Regional Juvenile Center. We also go to the center every other Sunday and spend a couple of hours just visiting with the girls, playing games, or doing crafts. I help lead weekly church services on Wednesdays at the detention center and also help on Fridays with the Moorhead Alternative Learning Center release program.
S: Feed kids! Bible study in the detention center and craft/game days at the detention center. I also did individual Bible studies with formerly incarcerated youth.
Do you perceive that there are any obstacles to being a volunteer and have you personally overcome any that you can share?
K: At first, I was afraid I didn’t know enough about the Bible or didn’t have enough historical knowledge to lead the kids in Bible studies. I don’t have a teaching or criminal justice degree. I didn’t think I’d be useful to the kids. What I’ve found is that most of all, the kids need someone to look them in the eye and SEE them… to remember their names, and to show up when we say we will. For the rest of it, I’m learning new things right along with the kids. Kids are incredibly open to hearing you say, “That’s a good question. Let me look into that a bit deeper and get back to you.”
S: Learning to accept that we may not see the fruits of our labor, but hope we plant a seed and let God do the rest.
You are both retired… have you ever gotten a surprised response when you share that you volunteer in youth ministry?
K: I had already been volunteering as a Sunday school teacher at my church, so I think getting more involved with kids didn’t surprise anyone. What people are most surprised about is that I’m comfortable going into the youth detention center because of the perception that the kids are “hard” and won’t be interested in hearing about God’s love for them.
S: A common response is, “No way could I do that”. There are so many levels of involvement that can fit differing comfort zones.
How has being a part of this ministry fulfilled what you believe God has called you to do?
K: It’s funny, we encourage the kids to pray and ask God to show them His purpose for their lives. We always warn them that it won’t necessarily be an immediate answer. Answers are in God’s time… not ours. To illustrate the point, I share with the kids that I was 59 years old before I realized where God was leading me… which is ministering to the kids. Although some of the stories we hear are incredibly sad, I feel so energized having the opportunity to pour out God’s love onto the kids. It just feels so right to me to be a part of this wonderful ministry.
S: Being the hands and feet of Jesus is what I wanted my retired life to look like. This ministry gives you that opportunity to serve God in our local mission field.
How would you encourage someone who is considering volunteering in youth ministry?
K: If you feel even a tiny flicker of curiosity… that’s God nudging you. Ask questions! We love to talk about our ministry and there are so many different areas and ways to help and make a difference in a young person’s life. All that’s needed to be a good volunteer is a love for God and those around you and wanting to make a difference in this very crazy world we live in.
S: There are many ways to be part of this ministry and we’d love to give you an opportunity to be part of God’s mission in our culture.