Seeing God at Work in the Lives of South Side Youth

Apr 1, 2018

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*The following is a reflection from our Youth Works staff to give testimony of the ways the Lord was at work in the lives of our students last summer. As we lean into a fast-approaching summer, perhaps this will lead you in how to pray for our Youth Works staff and young friends we have the privilege of ministering to – Pray “that every student in our reach would have the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ and know His unfailing love.”

How did you see God at work in the summer of 2017?

Kaylee: “I have regularly thought, throughout my time as Youth Works staff, that even if I knew nothing about how the students’ lives are being changed, I could certainly testify that the Lord is molding and growing me, as we seek to follow after Christ. This summer, I was reminded of the Lord’s faithfulness and that my first cry in a situation or circumstance should be to Him. As we were headed into our camp season, I was concerned that we were desperately underfunded to be able to take our middle schoolers on the trip. I caught myself waking up at night anxious about the finances and stressed out when talking to my husband, Drew, during the day. Our God, however, is so gracious. He gently reminded me, through a Bible study that we were going through with some of our high school students, that I had not yet talked with Him about my fear. Fortunately, the Lord convicted me that this was something I needed to address right then. So, I pulled out my journal and poured out a prayer.

“The next day after a Bible study and prayer time at a local coffee shop, multiple women approached me about supporting some of our students for camp. Well, over two thousand dollars came in and I was left in tears. I praised and thanked God and stood in awe of how He can do far more than we could ever ask for or think. I have also so appreciated reflecting back on how the most pivotal point for me was finally taking the time to sit with our Heavenly Father and tell Him everything that I was holding in my heart. I wish I could say that I learned my lesson about engaging God in prayer instead of fretting, but alas, no. I still catch myself getting swirled up in worry and concern. However, I am so thankful for a loving Father who is willing to remind His children to come first to Him.”

Drew: “It’s always hard for me to see clear ways God is at work during the moment things are happening. I am, however, always able to look back on what He has done in the past and how it has shaped and molded the moment I am in. This last year has been somewhat challenging in the aspect of trying to build genuine and deep relationships with these boys. But when I compare where I am now in the moments I spend with most of them, I can see how far God has really brought me and the bonds that have been developed between me and the youth here in the neighborhood. I can think of two boys in particular who I have grown to know and enjoy over this last year, but in the past, they would never allow me to go deeper than the surface of the fronts they were putting on. Through this summer, God has softened their hearts enough that the walls came down and the inner workings of their minds and emotions came forth. A whole new level of relationship has now been reached through the workings of Christ in our lives.”

Ashley: “God has been busy growing our relationships with the kids and bringing us into more intentional discipleship settings. As we leveraged the rich one-on-one time that the summer provides, the Lord has been creating a hunger in the hearts of our friends to know more about the things of His kingdom and what it is to walk with Him in a genuine way. This was particularly true for a girl I invited on a backpacking trip and then accompanied to WyldLife Camp in Oregon. Her heart was visibly softened during our time on the trail as she relaxed and began to open up more each day. This set the stage for camp the following week, during which time she accepted the Lord. She has since expressed interest in continuing in a Bible study with myself and two other high school girls. Being free to love our young friends in the way God intended, and then watch such tangible progress of fruit in their lives, is truly a gift that only the Lord could provide.”

As we look ahead…

It is our hope that we would, first of all, continue growing closer as a team, both to the Lord and to one another. We know that without unity amongst ourselves and strength and direction from the Lord, our efforts will be worthless. As we seek to love one another, work together, share the gospel with others, preach it to one another, actively give our fears to God, and seek Him in His Word, we pray that through this display of love the Holy Spirit would continue to draw our students into deeper relationship with the Lord. As some of our elementary school friends have now become middle schoolers, we have been able to integrate them into both Youth Group and WyldLife Club at Riverside. Being able to walk through this transitional stage in their lives is a unique blessing, and we pray that their love for the Lord would become more real for them as their capacity for maturity and understanding grow. Additionally, the relationships we nourished with our older middle school and high school students this summer are now in a position to take on the new shape of deeper discipleship and small group settings. As always, it is our prayer that every student in our reach would have the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ and know His unfailing love. Ultimately, we pray that their faith would lead to a yearning for others to know Jesus, leading them to share the gospel with their friends, family, teachers, and teammates.

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