One of my favorite things about Orange City is the opportunity for involvement in the community outside of Northwestern College. The churches in town are a great place to begin this endeavor!
Last year, after attending New Hope E-Free Church for two years, I was invited to come to the middle school youth group to check it out and see if I wanted to help out. I agreed to stop by the youth group on a Sunday evening, but I was sure this wasn’t for me. I walked in and the kids immediately invited me to play carpet ball, ping-pong, and foursquare. I was asked endless questions about where I was from and my favorite things to do at college. The kids welcomed me with open arms and I decided to come back another week. And another week and another week and here we are two years later. Each week, I look forward to spending my Sunday evenings for an hour and a half with the middle schoolers.
Last winter, I was asked to come along with my youth group to a weekend retreat, called “Winter Blast”. I debated whether I could handle being a chaperone to 30+ middle schoolers for three days and two nights. Were these stinky kids going to shower? (That honestly was my main concern; we all know how smelly middle school boys [and girls] can get after sweating and playing games for a weekend.) I found out that showers were available and so I jumped on board!
The weekend was filled with heart-felt worship (the jumping up and down kind with fists in the air), winter games (like kickball in the snow), small group discussion groups, and so much dodgeball.
We swam, we giggled, we talked about Jesus, we played volleyball, we sang, we prayed for each other, we built life-sized Jenga, we encouraged each other, we ate yummy food, and we learned about how Jesus loved others. This time was great for my faith as well as the middle schoolers’ faith.
I have since gone on two other retreats with my middle schoolers – one this past fall and Winter Blast for a second year a few weeks ago. I have come to form great relationships with my girls and the other leaders too. I remember back when college kids helped in my middle school youth group and fondly consider the impact that they had on my faith in those influential years.
College is a great time to begin some leadership roles. I would encourage any student to get involved in a youth group or volunteer group during their college years to get some leadership experience under their belt. Not only does it look great on a resume (wink-wink), but I’m sure it will change your life. Jesus calls us to be leaders wherever we are at, and your college years should be no exception.