Do you remember this TV show? Deborah (the mom) is frustrated because her in-laws keep coming over constantly and disrupting her family’s goings on. In the pilot episode Frank (the father-in-law) is on a mission to get Ray & Deb’s twins & smell their heads; Frank’s words, “to suck the youth out of them”. He wakes them up & takes them out of bed so he can just have a moment with them to be around their youth & it become a part of him.
Tuesday night I sat in a room filled with 60+ teenagers sharing testimonies of how God has been working in their lives. Suddenly a wall of emotion hit me in the face. As my eyes filled with tears I was reminded of 5yrs ago when we started working with this group of students…
5yrs ago my husband and I were called to work with the youth at our church. We were both working full time. Tyler was in school working on his PhD (aka: torture), we were not married yet so there was still a LOT of wedding planning going on. My husband had never taught before & he had never worked with teenagers before. We had no time, we were ill-equipped, we didn’t have teenagers, and we didn’t want to teach. But when God calls you to serve you go.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present you requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7
When we found out that we couldn’t have children biologically rejoicing was the farthest thing from our minds. We were angry and hurt. We felt cheated of our God-given right to have a family. We felt like failures & wondered how this blow would affect our future & our marriage. Thankfully we were not alone during this time, because God had already begun to fill that void for our unborn child in our life. “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you…The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid…” (Hebrews 13:5-6). God gave us peace about the one child that we could not have and said LOOK at the 15-20 kids that you are blessed with every Sunday morning!
These children/youth/teenagers have become our children: we celebrate their successes, grieve in their failures, pray for them by name, worry about the world they are entering & are blessed when we see them surrendering their lives to Christ. They have also been a tremendous blessing on our marriage…
- Teaching taught us accountability: at a time in our lives where time is short & lists are long, staying in the Word was not a priority but when you know that without a doubt there will be teenagers waiting for you on Sunday morning expecting a lesson, you will be in the Word. When the gravity hits you that you only have 52 Sundays in a year with a group of young people that are being bombarded everyday with temptations, sin & pain, you will be in the Word.
- Teaching taught us that our love is not enough to keep our marriage together. We have to have a fear of the Lord & keep God in our marriage at all times because when you break that covenant the sin affects everyone around you. Our children are watching every move we make, how we treat each other & we must be the example otherwise they will start to find influences elsewhere.
- Teaching the students taught my husband that he loves teaching. Because of the confidence God allowed him in teaching the 10th graders at our church he is now on staff at this school.
We leave next week to pick up our 5 children & people thought it was crazy that I was going to youth camp the week before we leave. Friends said: “You still have SO much to do before you go!”, “What a sacrifice you are making for these teens.”, “Can’t someone else go?”, “Don’t they have enough sponsors?”, “They are so blessed to have you!”
Oh friends, you don’t understand, I am Frank Barone. I want to wake them up, take them out of bed & “suck the youth out of them.” God has blessed us abundantly through these students, we have been able to “Rejoice in the Lord always” despite our circumstances because He allowed us to serve in this ministry. Every success, lesson learned, everything good was from Him!
I pray dear friends that when God calls you to serve that you do not make excuses but delight that He has given you an opportunity. When we started teaching we expected to change lives, we didn’t know that God would use it to change ours. As our season changes & we step down from teaching in the youth group we leave with a happy heart, beautiful memories & excitement for the next family that has been called to serve.
At the dinnermesa,