We are continuing our new series today- Real Life Youth Ministry! Each week we are sharing the story of someone doing Youth Ministry somewhere around the world. We all need encouragement in ministry at times. And sharing stories is one way we can encourage others on their journey. The Devil loves to bring discouragement, confusion, and make us feel like we’re not doing a good job or just aren’t good enough to be used by God. But the Bible says,
“And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.” –Revelation 12:11
That’s why it’s so important to share our stories! This week we are hearing from Dedra who is currently in Ireland as a missionary. She is giving it her all and volunteering with the Youth Ministry at her church. Welcome, Dedra!
Tell us a little about yourself and how you ended up in Youth Ministry.
I didn’t feel qualified to help in youth because I was just barely 20 years old. I knew I was called to youth ministry but I thought it would be maybe in the future. The church I went to in college announced that they needed a piano player for the youth band. I knew the Lord was leading me to do it but I fought it for a whole summer. If I was on the youth band I would be a youth leader as well. Finally I called and auditioned. It was the best thing I could have done at the time! Now I am a missionary at a church in Ireland helping with the youth and seeing revival beginning here in this nation.
What does a typical Youth night look like for you?
We meet Friday nights at 7pm. Usually we have fellowship time/hang out and play games first, then head to the sanctuary for announcements, a group game, Worship and the message. We finish up with more hang out time and tea.
What is something your ministry does well and how did that come about?
We like to get our lads together with other youth groups in the city and have events. I think it helps them meet more Christian teenagers that might go to their school.
Do you have any tips for collaborating with other youth groups like this?
I guess just from what I’ve seen, all the youth pastors make sure they keep in communication and have a great relationship. We take turns going to each other’s churches for the events and even join with church across the nation for a huge summer camp. I think as a leader, my tip would be to other leaders to support the youth pastor’s vision in any event or collaboration they are doing and keep a positive and upbeat attitude.
What was your biggest challenge initially, and how did you overcome it?
Initially, for me it was a challenge to just get out of my comfort zone and talk to them. It’s hard for me sometimes to be the forward one and go up and talk to someone. I really just had to be determined to make a difference and give 110% at what I do even if it was hard.
I’ve been a missionary for 10 months now. I still feel really new at a lot of things. The main things I’ve had to repeat to myself are, “Be flexible.”, “Walk in love.”, “Don’t be shocked.”, and “Be faithful with the little things.” Irish culture is different from the culture I grew up with so I have to look at every week (every day) as a learning opportunity.
What keeps you going when you’re feeling frustrated, worn down, or just want a night off?
The fact that we only have a small amount of time to impact these kids lives. They need people in their life who will be in their corner and it takes being consistent to show them that person is you. I think back to the youth leaders I remember growing up, the ones who were the real deal and the ones who kinda came and went. I want to be the real deal.
Any words of advice you’d give to others starting out in Youth Ministry?
Be teachable, have fun, give it all you’ve got! Remember the why behind everything you do.
–Dedra, Limerick (Ireland)