Dad & Mom- I can’t start anywhere else but with my parents. You have always encouraged me in pursuing Christ. When I think of my youth, I think of the way you raised me. You encouraged me to participate in VBS, Sunday School, and later youth group. Constant attendance at church events was our way of life. I am so thankful for how generous you were to sacrificially pay our way to many, many summer Bible camps. Thank you!
Monica- You were so key in the years after faith became personal to me (which was my 5th grade year). You were our youth leader at “Heirforce” and patiently answered my barrage of questions after each Bible study. I was hungry for God’s Word and you provided me with nourishment week by week. I’ll never forgot the buzz and excitement of those years and the many other peers of mine who were blessed by that time in the mid-to-late 90’s.
Phil- You showed me what it was to love people and also gave me my first taste of small-group Bible study. At our Friday night group “MILC” (Men in Love with Christ), we had so much fun playing sports, video games, and running a mile around the block. But most of all, I remember the midnight Bible studies where we just couldn’t seem to get enough. Thank you for the notes you wrote to me during those years (I still have them). Also, thank you for being brave in saying to me one night at a youth lock-in, “Brett, I think you’d make a good pastor someday.” That changed the trajectory of my life.
Steve- I was so blessed to have so many great youth leaders that loved me during that time in my life and you were one of them! You were so gracious to open up your house for many youth gatherings. The lock-in that I just mentioned was at your house. You showed me what it meant to have a compassionate heart and I saw the love you had as you shared God’s Word with us youth. Every time I bumped into you I was greeted with your warm smile.
Rich- Thank you for showing me what it meant to be yourself as a Christian. Your goofy personality always blessed me as we bumped into each other at church. Those little conversations before and after the worship service meant so much to me. It was so obvious that you cared for me and other youth. Thank you for being a life-long youth leader that knows the importance of caring for people!
Brad- You were my youth group leader during my four years of high school. As you served you brought your cheery personality and gift of music to us as youth. I’ll never forget the trip we took together to visit Moody Bible Institute and also the trip where you brought us to AFLBS. They were important events that also shaped my future. I also am thankful for your emphasis on discipleship, which made a lasting impact on me.
Rick- You were a unique influence on my life as my high school Sunday School teacher. You brought your love for apologetics and taught us how to think critically. I am so indebted to you for that. You made us feel uncomfortable at times as you played the “devil’s advocate,” but you did it with a sly grin that reassured us that you were stretching us for our own good. These times prepared me to face the questions of the world and the worldviews I would later come into contact with.
Jeff- Oh, Pastor Jeff, where do I start? In the midst of all these other youth leaders, you were constantly there. Week by week you fed our congregation God’s Word. I can’t tell you how much I soaked up during those Sundays. I still have all of the “sermon outline” sheets! You encouraged me through struggles and doubts. I will never forget how you allowed me to “job shadow” you when I was in high school. That one day with you showed me what it means to be a pastor. It was a huge day for me and solidified in my mind that I truly wanted to be a pastor and continue to prepare for that calling.
As you can see, God was very good to me to bring all of these people into my life. Stay tuned for part two when I will continue through my college years and into my early adulthood.