It had been a really, really long day. It began at 7:30 AM which is pretty early when you went to bed at 2:30 AM the night before, let me tell you! Not only that, it was the 4th 16+ hour day in a row. Welcome to youth ministry when you have your group at the LIFE Conference. We had just finished our big group time that followed each evening service where our students shared about how God had challenged them, or sought to have the group pray for areas of their life where they wanted to see God move. Those times were my favorite part of the trip, but this one had lasted almost 3 hours.
It was 1 AM – and I was looking forward to my bed… maybe if I hurried to the elevator I could beat Lauri to the hotel room and get in the bathroom first – I know, pretty selfish of me. As I flipped off the meeting room lights and stepped out the door I bumped into a young lady from my group. She’d been waiting for me. “Pastor Steve, I really need to talk to you,” she said. With a supernatural effort I swallowed the sigh that wanted to bleed out of me. Lauri was definitely getting the bathroom first tonight. Gesturing to a cluster of chairs in the corner of the hotel lobby I said, “Sure… let’s sit down over there.”
The first words out of her mouth? “My father abused me from the ages of 5-8.” All thought of sleep and bed were gone. My heart broke for her as she struggled to tell me her story. When she was too broken to speak, we just wept together. I was the first person she had ever told with the exception of her mother and a prosecuting attorney. Dad was in jail, and had been for almost 10 years — he was due to be released in 2 months – she had not seen him since she was 8 years old.
That night reminded me in a new way of the power of community. She shared about how our youth group, her small group, and her ministry team had been her family for the past 3 years. “I honestly don’t know where I would be without this youth group,” she said. “Maybe not even alive.” “They have helped me find and see Jesus.”
One of our core values at Christian Alliance Church is to Grow Together. Christian Community is such a powerful influence not only in our life, but in the lives of others. The writer of the book of Hebrews wrote, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…” I hope you have a group that you are doing life with, because there is great power in Christian community. If you don’t have that… we have a new small group burst beginning the end of October. Don’t do the Christian life alone!