One day I was sitting, chatting, alongside a teen. We’d been chatting about normal things, what classes had homework, what activities would happen next weekend, whether or not the teen should pursue a job, etc. Out of the blue, the teen turned and looked me in the eye and said, “I can be me here.”
I was confused. “Huh?” was my novel reply.
“No really, like, I can be me here.” The teen went on to explain, “I can’t be myself anywhere else. If I say what I want to at school, kids look at me funny, post nasty comments, or talk behind my back. They’re just jerks. But here, I can say what I’m thinking, like really thinking. And I know I won’t be made fun of. Nobody will laugh at me. I feel safe here. That’s really why I come every week.”
And you know what…the teen is exactly right! That is exactly why attendance happens every week for this teen! The teen is starting to experience Isaiah 54:4 with real skin on: “Do not be afraid, for you will not be put to shame; don’t be humiliated, for you will not be disgraced. For you will forget the shame of your youth,”
But what else has this teen truly experienced? RESTORATION!! This teen knows that there is hope, unconditional love and truth being offered here. I love knowing that this hope and restoration is offered only because we, ourselves, have experienced the freedom Christ’s restoration brings and we want to pass it on! This is why we do ministry, even in the midst of every day uncomfortable moments and uncertainties.