So this blog is waaay overdue, but this Summer has found Journey Youth busier than ever. Between The “Endless Summer” Team Competition every Wednesday, “The Gospel Journey Maui” Small Group Bible Study every other Saturday, The “Crazy Love” Sr. High Girls Bible Study every Sunday afternoon, The “Inner-Session” Jr. High Girls Bible Study every Tuesday, the Area One Youth Camp this past June, and the Mission Trip to New York that we leave for tomorrow, the Journey Youth leaders have been going full speed ahead. For those that may not know, there is an incredible group of folks that help make all of these things happen. I want to take some time to introduce them to you, thank each of them and invite you to pray for them and the Journey Youth ministry.
Jessica Ilsemann, pronounced: ILLS-min, just celebrated her first full year with Journey Youth on June 27th. I’ll be honest, I don’t know if she actually “celebrated,” but we celebrate having her with us. What most don’t realize is much of the first six months or so of volunteering in Journey Youth consists of sweeping floors and guarding doors and Jessica has always done whatever is needed and always asks, “What else can I do to help?” She has a hunger for the Truth, an admirable honesty, and a heart to serve these students. We are so grateful for all she does.
This guy in the picture above, Jake Lawrence, is more than an epic head of hair and an A+ drummer! 🙂 He is an incredible blessing to my life personally and to these students. What he and his wife, Nancy, do for and with these Jr. High Students is nothing short of amazing! Jake’s ability to communicate God’s Word to these students and relate to them is inspiring. If I ever have a question about what we should do or IF I should do something, I trust Jake’s heart and always go to him. His dry humor and ability to create awkward situations just to make people feel comfortable is an oxymoron I’ve never experienced before meeting him. If you haven’t taken the time to get to know him or his wife Nancy, I encourage you to do it.
Nancy Lawrence…the queen of goofy-faced pictures. Anyone who’s tried to snap a picture of her knows what I’m talking about. She and her husband Jake (above) pastor our Junior High Youth. Y’all remember the amazing time of worship we had when the Youth took over for a Sunday service? Yeah, that’s because of the hard work and time Nancy has spent with those teens. Nancy’s heart for worship beats inside of the Journey Youth worship team. The grace, patience, and genuine concern she shows for these students is what makes it so easy for them to approach her. My wife Amy and I cannot imagine doing youth ministry without the Lawrences. Both are a blessing to our lives.
And then there’s Guffey…or “Guffster,” “Guff-tron,” “The Guff,” and my personal favorite, Guffaluffagus! Not only is this guy a creative genius, but he is one heck of a youth leader. The same passion he pours into creating videos and graphics for Journey Church he carries with him for student ministry. This guy motivates me to do better and take what we do and make it better. If I’ve designed something, 9 times out of 10 I’ll run it by Guff before anybody else sees it. He’s another person on this Journey Youth team that is a straight up servant and loves to help others. Low-key and very much behind-the-scenes, Guff makes an impact that everyone can see.
Last and certainly not least, my wife, Amy. I love this woman! Good news, right considering she’s my wife! 🙂 The details, schedules, spelling airors…(I did that on purpose!) The things most people wouldn’t notice or not want to deal with, my wife loves and takes care of. I can honestly say without her attention to detail I wouldn’t get nearly as much done. Her wisdom, discernment, and prayer life is something I admire and couldn’t imagine living without. If there is anything I may have doubts about or am nervous about, I know I can count on her honesty and loving way of communicating with me. It’s that honesty and that unconditional love that has helped make me a better man and helps make Journey Youth what it is.
The one thing we all have in common is we all love these students and want to serve them and their parents. We have a desire to know God and make him known. We believe in this generation. We believe they have the amazing opportunity and capability to change our world and we want them to know the One that can help them do it. These are the leaders of an army of peace, love, forgiveness, and inescapable impact and I say, Thank you for everything you do.