Thursday, August 7, 2008

God Bless Youth Workers!

Back in the day when I was a teenager, most churches did not have youth pastors. If a church was blessed, there would be a few adults that would take it upon themselves to work with the youth.

I started going to a little Southern Baptist church that was close to my home. We had been driving into town to go to church, but decided to try the one in our neighborhood. Turns out that a lot of the kids that rode my bus attended that church. I felt like I could fit in with the youth in that church, so we made it our church home.

There were two ladies, Roberta and Lois, that enjoyed doing things with the teenagers. They were sisters and they each had a child about my age.

They were so awesome! They were willing to take us to rallies and gospel singings.

In the south, where I lived, it was popular to go to singings to hear quartets, family groups and all manner of southern gospel music. A real treat was to go to an "all-night singin'" which actually only lasted until after midnight. Bummer. It was at an all-night singin' that I first held a boy's hand!

But I digress.

Roberta and Lois were also willing to take us camping, host bonfires, and even work up a good old-fashioned "haunted house" for us to celebrate fall. [I seem to remember being blindfolded and have my hands thrust into cold spaghetti -- this was to represent "dead brains."]

We girls came up with the idea of a singing group. Lois played the piano for us and Roberta sang the alto part and made us all matching long dresses to wear while we sang. I smile as I think of this because I was so shy that when we sang, no one could hear me! I guess I was just there to look cute in the dress!

Lois was always willing to let me join family camping trips and come home for Sunday dinner after church to Memaw's house.

They helped us put on Christmas plays every year and monitored swim parties at Mrs. Bates' house.

Best of all, they were willing to chaperone us every year when we went to church camp. Some of my best teen memories are of sitting around the campfire and all of us singing "Pass It On" and "Kumbaya My Lord." Of course, there was a lot of teasing, laughter and practical jokes back at the dorm.

Now, that I'm a mom of teenagers myself, I can see what a sacrifice of their time it was to be so involved with the youth group. They had to be tired sometimes and have chores at home that needed to be done. They both had other children at home besides their teenagers. They both had husbands that probably would have liked more attention from their wives.

I thought of them the other day when I saw this verse: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

Out of their efforts working with the youth group, Roberta gained a daughter-in-law. A godly daughter-in-law who told me the other day that after 33 years marriage she still likes her husband pretty good! This heritage has been passed down to the next generation. One of Roberta's grandsons is studying for the ministry.

Lois gained a son-in-law out of the youth group. Her daughter and son-in-law have been married 34 years.

No, I didn't marry anyone from the youth group, but I was rooted and grounded in relationship with Christ and I serve Him today. My husband and I have been married 32 years.

Those are pretty good statistics for kids raised in the 70's.

There were others that they impacted while working with the youth. Maybe not everyone stayed in church like Roberta and Lois hoped, yet God has promised that if you train up a child in the way they should go, when they are old, they won't depart from it. [See Proverbs 22:6]

Only eternity will reveal the extent of their fruit.

Here is a picture of Roberta and Lois, almost 40 years after I first met them:

They're still going strong. Roberta still decorates cakes. Lois babysits her great-grandchildren every day!

These are Titus Two women, people! They taught me how to love family and my church family.

After many years, I went back home and dropped by Roberta's to visit. It was wonderful to see them, but all too soon family responsibilities made us cut our visit short. As I was leaving, Roberta followed me out onto the porch and told me more than once, "I love you." I told her I loved her, too, but I should have said, "I know you love me, you proved it over and over to me, and I thank God for you."


Amy Carroll said...

What a legacy! I've been thinking a lot about becoming a godly older woman and what that looks like. I think your story about your youth leaders shows that pouring your life into others is key. Thanks for sharing your story--I'm so inspired.


a Tonggu Momma said...

Roberta and Lois are amazing women! The special youth leaders in my life were Karen and Billy Capps. They touched me so deeply, the Husband and I decided to come full circle and volunteer as youth leaders as well.

Thanks so much for your comment on my blog!

Van said...

Oh I remember - we had no youth pastros- just wonderful dedicated workers who loved us so much that they invested their time and energy so we could have fun and see God. God bless those wonderful saints. Then guess what - I am so old that when I was a young adult I had the wonderful opportunity to give back-but it was the teenagers who gave to me! Thank you God for your church and allowing me to participate in your kingdom building.

Amy said...

That's wonderful! We need more people like that in the world. Two great women.