I am 19-years-old and I'm about to go into my sophomore year at Ouachita Baptist University. As I continue into my second year of college, I can't help but reflect back in my life to the joys and encouragement that my youth group always brought me when I was still there. Seeing my youth group from the outside of actually being in it shows me how much of an impact my youth group made in my life. Youth groups can be what you make it, but I know mine was one big support system who encouraged and loved one another, ignoring the flaws and bad habits. Since I've been thinking about it so much lately, I thought it might be a good idea to write an open letter to every single person that I've ever, through my six years of being in youth, come in contact with. And then I want to write a short piece of advice to the people who are still in youth.
Dear old youth group (you know who you are),
First, I just wanted to say thank you. Not for just being loving and encouraging, but helping me to see things from a more positive perspective. When you get in college, it's very easy to automatically view things negatively because life gets tough, but I remind myself of the things I learned from y'all in youth, that God loves me for who I am and that you guys do too. Thank you for keeping up with me and checking on me through my first year of college. That shows me that y'all really do care about me and you want to see the best in me, as I do with every one of you. Some of my best memories came from youth events. The laughs, crazy trips, playing card games till 1:30 in the morning, and late night armadillo chasing during camps. Thinking of those times make me so happy, because we have fun together while glorifying God through it all.
Thanks to all the youth pastors who care so deeply for their students. You'll never understand how much of an impact you have of your students' lives, I know mine has impacted mine so greatly because he's been there for me through everything, and I can't thank him and his family as well enough for the things they do for our youth group. So I'll continue to pray for you and that God will continue to lead all of you where you're supposed to go.
I remember when I became a Christian and asked Jesus to forever take control of my life on October 8, 2014 during a Wednesday night service with my youth group. I was onstage leading our praise team, when I started crying uncontrollably, realizing that I needed Jesus so desperately in my life. I remember that night so clearly and how every one of you were there for me and told me how happy you were for me. That's a night I will never forget, and one reason for that is because I had an awesome group of people right in front of me who pushed me the whole way to that point.
Some advice I would tell anyone that's still in any youth group anywhere, is to get involved. Not only will your best memories from high school and junior high come from youth, but you never know who's life you might impact along the way. When college rolls around for you, you'll realize how much more you should've done in your youth group, so get involved and make some life-long friends. I'm praying for each and every one of you, that you might open up to God and let Him lead your life in the direction that it's supposed to be lead.