N.B. I was shifting back through some things I had written on an internet forum, and I came across this. I wrote it back in March, I think, and just was encouraged to see what I started out doing this for.
"Working within the church is great. I've met a lot of awesome people, people I can talk to, be open with, share stuff with, and also learn from. Older people that have seen a fair bit more of the world, have learnt lessons the hard way, have made the mistakes, and have run a bit more of the race. Sometimes, life gets hard. I'm only a young'un, and there are only a few here my age that I can socialise with (not that I have many evenings in a week to socialise... or the money to do so...) When most my age are off at Uni, partying, making friends, being independant, doing what they want and somewhere along the way getting essays in before the deadline, I have a responsibility. To the church. To the kids and young people I work with. To myself, and to God. I have to be places at a certain time, prepared. I spend a lot of the time on show. So even when its been a crappy day, if there is a kid about, I have to hide that as best as I can. I guess I'm used to that nowadays though.
Sometimes, I feel like giving up. When I'm tired, and I've spent 4 hours preparing a bible study session, and then I don't actually get to do it because the kids are messing around, its frustrating. When I have to spend hours at church, night after night, or haven't slept well or at all, and still get up early enough to get to the school on time for the assembly, or somewhere for a meeting, or to church to prepare for the service, I feel like throwing in the towel. I am constantly being challenged to do things I find really hard, things I find difficult to cope with. Things that had I a choice, I would not come within twenty thousand miles of doing. But amongst all that - is the chance to change lives. Is the chance to make an impact on a young persons world.
I've had a passion for youth work since the age of about 15. At my home church, I was heavily involved in the kids work - for some reason kids just seem to take to me really quickly. Even the difficult ones seem to like me! (Which is a surprise to me most of the time!) And I owe a lot of where I am now to my youth worker. He changed my life dramatically when I hit rock bottom, and I have been given the chance to do the same for the young people I work with. Yes, life is hard sometimes, damn hard, but when a young person comes to you with a problem because they only trust you, and you have the chance to demonstrate the love and care of Christ to that young person, it makes it all worth while. When a crying child runs to you for comfort - you know that they need you.
I've overcome a few random struggles in my life. And I know from experience that when people go through stuff, they often wonder why God brought that hardship into their life, why they have been made to struggle or deal with a difficult issue. But if you stick with it, and stick with God, somewhere along the journey, you realise why, and begin to see how God's plan in your life is not always the things that you had in mind.
I had a conversation with a young girl of 9 years old the other night. She was upset because she didn't see her Dad much because he worked a lot and she missed him. As we chatted, she confided in me that she didn't think her Mum loved her because she shouted at her all the time. Just chatting some things through with her made me learn from my own experiences. Talking things through with her, I was able to be the one to explain that actually, no matter how her Mum acted, she did love her, and her Dad too! She left feeling slightly more settled about her relationship with her parents (I hope!)
And sometimes, it is those little things, that text to a young person who has had a bad week, that smile to say, "I'm happy you're here", that conversation that says, 'I'm interested in you', it is those small things that make the biggest impact on the lives of the young people in whom I invest my time. Just making the effort, goes a long way when a young person realises you made the effort just for them. And through building those relationships, strengthened by the small things we do day in and day out, comes the real everyday experiences of Christ.
And that is why I get up every morning. And why I go to work even when I am feeling crappy. Each of my young people has an awesome life ahead of them. And some of them will walk it with God, and some will fight him all the way. But if through my ministry they might learn something of the gracious love that upholds them and sustains them, then I'll be satisfied that I did my job as God willed it."
Ami Wager [March 08]