(CC) Andrew Root–Youth ministry isn’t about fun

Stepping out of the story, J says to me, “I remember feeling so drawn to Kathy’s words about joy. ‘Sorrow turned to joy.’ I realized, sitting in that hard chair, that joy comes from the sharing of sorrow. Joy is this incredible experience of sorrow being shared, leading us into a community of love. That’s what I was experiencing, the pure gift of sorrow being shared. I remember thinking to myself, Yeah, it’s true. Youth ministry is for joy because youth ministry is about creating a space for stories and moments of sharing that open us up to something big.”

We sit in silence for a few seconds, and I think about the ramifications of J’s words. I then ask, “What happened next with Kathy’s story? I’m with Tannon—it’s wild that the old woman used that verse.”

J continues, “Kathy then told us the old woman sat with her, holding her hand until Kathy’s husband showed up. Kathy said, ‘We exchanged numbers. I don’t know why; it seems weird now. But she started to call me, and then we started to meet to pray together. When I got pregnant again, she was the first person I called, because I was both so happy and so scared. We prayed together every week through the whole pregnancy. I just had this sense that God was leading me through. I’ll never forget when Nikki was born, seeing her hold Nikki, crying and praying for her. That’s why she’s Nikki, because in a waiting room like this God sent me Nichole Hunmurray, to pray for me, to see me through and bless us with our Nichole Marie Mattson.’”

J tells me that a silence came over everyone. After a minute, Kathy breathed in deep and said, “That’s why I came today, why I wanted Nikki to be here. In a very weird way, waiting rooms are holy places to me. I’d somehow gotten myself disconnected from that experience, but when I heard Lorena was in the hospital, I knew I needed to be here.” Kathy paused and then said, “I never intended to tell that story until Bernard told his, but I know it’s why I’m here.”

J says to me, “I thought to myself, I want my youth ministry to be a waiting room like this one. A place where we share stories and are open to something bigger that ushers us into joy.”

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Posted in Parish Ministry, Theology, Youth Ministry