Whenever I have middle school students in tears while reflecting about how they see God working in their lives, I can’t help but think how amazing my job is–and how alive and active our Creator is.
Our confirmation program at Faith is set up to be a two-year process, where kids get put into small groups based on gender and spend those two years meeting regularly and growing with at least two small group leaders. These leaders are incredible servants and role models–our requirements are that the leaders meet with the kids at least twice a month, but almost all of the leaders go above and beyond and take the kids out to the movies, attend their sporting events, and work with them on service projects. We have over 30 leaders in this program, and they are without a doubt some of the most dedicated and faithful people I’ve ever met.
I have my own small group of girls with an amazing co-leader, Dawn. We’ve been together for nearly two years, and we’ve seen our girls grow and mature in incredible ways. We’ve bonded and been through a lot together–including some pretty deep and challenging situations.
In the last two years, we’ve been to the zoo, been to “Phantom of the Opera”, been on mission trips, gotten snow cones, gone shopping, and eaten several dozen (perhaps maybe thousand) pizzas together. We’ve cried together, prayed together, and been on sugar-highs together. We’ve tackled every conceivable teen issue together, everything from sex to drinking to cutting to depression. We’ve had sleep overs together, and have spent entire nights crammed onto one bed, sharing everything on our hearts. We’re a little family.
This summer, our girls will be confirmed–they’ll be publicly professing their faith in Jesus and their committment to our church. They’ll also be sharing their own personal testimony in front of their friends and family in a few months. I’m already proud of them.
In order to prepare them for their testimony process, we started talking about what they’ve experienced during these last two years of confirmation–how they’ve seen themselves grow, how their faith has changed, what their feelings are on the process, and how they’ve seen God at work in their lives. After spending some time shopping at the mall (yes, somehow I was blessed to end up with girls after my own heart!), we crashed at my apartment and started talking.
I expected some pretty meaningful answers. What I didn’t expect, however, was to be absolutely blown away by their responses.
This group has been a lifeline for these girls. They all talked about how it’s been a place of safety, security, acceptance, and understanding. They’ve been loved, and they’ve found a “second family”. They’ve grown, and they’ve stopped relying on the faith of their parents and have embraced their own faith. Despite the fact that they’ve all come from drastically different backgrounds (some were born Catholic, some come from largely unchurched families, and some have grown up in the Lutheran church), nearly every girl shared how she’s wrestled through her doubts and finally understood the truth that God is real.
They all talked about how they’ve seen God at work, undeniably and tangibly. And how they’ve discovered a personal relationship with their Savior, Jesus.
Even our most hyper, off-the-wall-and-never-serious girl broke down and cried as she shared how deeply changed she’s been through this experience. She shared how she never even really knew what Christianity was before she started, and how she now not only understands what her faith is all about but she also loves being in church every single week. Our entire group was reduced to tearful hugs as she shared her feelings with us.
I get chills thinking about how profoundly impacted these girls have been, and how markedly different their entire lives will be as a result of these last two years.
So, I say again: our God is alive–and He’s moving in very real ways.