It was bound to happen. I’ve been in youth ministry for going on 11 years; almost the same amount of time that I have been in Gaylord. The other night, I received a prayer request email that one of the kids that I knew from my time at FUMC in Gaylord had been killed in a car accident.
I started by helping out on youth group outings like Ichthus and mission trips. Then I started I started teaching 7th and 8th grade Sunday school. There was a core group of 7th graders that I still kind of call “my kids.” They were that original group that God gave me to ease me into youth ministry. Along with the core group, were the friends and family that would from time to time be in the class, and/or youth group as I expanded into the high school youth ministry in a year or two after. While this girl wasn’t in the core group, she would show up from time to time with her cousin. So I got to know her and her family a bit.
I tend to over analyze things a bit and sometimes can be a little too detached from people. So when I sit and process this, I try not to think too much on the things that I can do to help kids find Christ, I can feel pretty guilty if I feel that I have fallen short of doing enough for each kid. I find some comfort that I was one of many that God used to reach out to teens.
I also process the “what if it was one of my kids” question (since I have 4 plus the grandkids), or one of those early kids that impacted my life as I tried to figure out what my role in youth ministry was so long ago. I can’t imagine that. This is the second kid that has passed away in the time that I have been doing this that I have known, and if you count the ones that I didn’t have any relationship with, but know that they were in the youth group at one time, it makes 4, and the second this year. The sadness will fade, but it is there none the less.