Youth Works Spotlight: by Jackie Patten, Youth Works Director
One of my favorite Youth Works icebreakers is “When did you feel most connected to God this week?”
There are several defining moments of my walk with the Lord that set me on a trajectory of following Him, rather than just being a fan of Him.
The common denominator of all of those moments was people. Whether it was people pursuing me as I continued to live in sin, helping me onto my feet, or speaking gentle truth into my life, God has consistently used people to remind me what His love is really about. To answer my own question, I’d say doing life with others (the good, bad, and ugly) is how I feel most connected to God.
In the same way that my mentors loved me into Jesus’ arms many years ago, I now get to walk alongside students as they explore their own pathways to Him.
Kailani is a student who I have discipled since 2021. We’ve summited many metaphorical mountains over the years and have celebrated in ways you’d imagine a 13-year-old girl would.
All A’s and B’s? McDonald’s, here we come! Memorized all the disciples’ names? Coffee at Rail//Line! Gave up a bad habit for 6 months? Trampoline park!
As Kailani continues to grow up and work through the throes of peer pressure, I’ve been reminded of how my mentors leaned into the hard stuff with me.
They listened intently, didn’t judge, and reminded me of my worth.
Their way of discipleship left a lasting mark on my life.
It doesn’t have to be formal and complicated. And if kids have taught me anything, it’s that they just want us to be real and consistent.
I hope to emulate their process, both in giving and receiving, for years to come.
P.S. If you’re reading this and have been a mentor to me, thank you for modeling godly love and truth to me! Your support changed my life.
Pray With Us
“We are seeing a lot of violence amongst our youth on the South Side. Physical fights, stabbings, and shootings are happening on a weekly basis. Please pray for protection and peace over them.”
– Jackie Patten, Youth Works Director