How Can I Change These Kids? Thoughts of a New Youth Pastor
By David H. Brazeel
Indiana Bible College changed my life. I went from a very small town, with very small views, and a very small outlook, to a place that not only broadened my knowledge both spiritually and mentally, but a place that also opened up my view on church, outreach, and what it takes to win someone to God. I learned many valuable things as I attended Indiana Bible College. These are things that I use almost everyday of my life. But when I graduated in 2005, the things that I was about to face, were things that I didn’t learn about in the classroom. This was not due to a lack of curriculum, but to the fact that some things just can’t be taught.
I was among the very low percentage of graduates who was offered a full time ministerial position right away. The man who would soon become my Pastor, called me at the end of the school year and scheduled a visit to his church in the small town of Kinder, Louisiana. Upon visiting this church and spending some time there, I felt God telling me that this is where He needed me to be. On September 1, 2005, I loaded a U-haul truck and moved from my home in Eva, Alabama to a town where the only person that I knew, other than God, was myself.
When I arrived and met the kids of whom I would be working with, I must admit that I was more than a little worried. Standing before me was a group of fifteen young people who saw me as just the next guy who was going to leave them. Youth Pastors had come and they had gone, either giving up on the kids, or giving up on themselves. I knew that in order for me to make a difference in the lives of these young people, it was going to take three very important things: I would have to earn their trust; second, I would have to earn their love; and most important, God was going to have to help me.
As I began to grow closer to these young people, I started to learn things about them. I began to see why they had trust issues and why they had love issues. The majority of the group had very bad home lives. Home was not a place of love and comfort, but rather a place of fear and insecurity. Over half of them had been physically, mentally, or sexually abused. Several of them were on probation for various things. Being a brand new Youth Pastor and seeing all of these things, I knew that God was going to have to help me a lot! I didn’t even know where to start. They were at an Apostolic church, but they had no idea what that meant. They also had no idea that God had them at this church for a reason.
After many nights of prayer and seeking God for what I needed to do, I felt God leading me in a direction, to teach. Rather than unload on them and preach to them, I felt led to just begin teaching them who God is. I was amazed to find out that some of them didn’t even realize that Jesus died for our sins! I took some time teaching them, while at the same time loving them. I went through several bible studies and just taught them about God, about God’s love, about forgiveness, about worship, and about prayer. Over the next nine months I continued this routine, the whole time letting them know, that I was not going to give up on them. And that I was there for them, no matter what. I showed them that I was there to help, not judge. We would go to different events such as youth rallies and I would have fellow ministers say things to me like, “Why aren’t your girls wearing skirts?” My simple reply was that I wanted to get them into heaven before I got them into a skirt. By simply accepting these kids for who they were, and honoring the fact that they were there because they wanted to be there and not because someone made them come, earned me their love. Acceptance and love earned me their trust.
After almost nine and a half months of seeing very small steps of progress being made, not only spiritual, but in everyday life, it finally happened. It was a Sunday night and the service began with a tongues and interpretation. After this the church just began to pray. I looked out just before kneeling to pray, to see the youth group sitting there unmoved. I bowed my head and prayed to God. Being weary, discouraged, and wondering if I was still in the will of God, I asked God for some type of reassurance. Just as I did, I felt two people begin to pray with me. As I heard the voices I realized that it was two guys from my youth group!
Not just standing, not just coming to the front, but coming onto the platform where I was and praying for me! This triggered something in the Holy Ghost that was amazing. As the next few minutes passed, the entire youth group was on the platform praying. Praying for me, praying for each other, and just seeking God! I have never experienced such a breakthrough! Such a reassurance from God! A fire was ignited that night that is burning stronger everyday. God is raising up leaders in the group who will continue to spread this fire. The unity of this youth group surpasses any that I have ever seen. Since our breakthrough, I have been asked by some of the youth to come to their house and go through all of their music, and get rid of what would not be pleasing to God.
The things that they throw away, I keep in a bag in my office as a trophy to wave in the devil’s face every now and then, just to make sure he knows that he no longer has authority here! We have started a youth prayer night, just to maintain our momentum. I have watched a group in nine and a half months go from a group of un-churched kids that some have given up on, to an on fire for God, worshipful, Holy Ghost filled youth group. In nine months we have doubled our number, baptized twelve in the name of Jesus Christ, and have seen almost all of them receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost. I take a van out every service and pick them up, because they want to be at church!
We have a long way to go, but through the help of God, we are going to make it! One of the girls in my group said, “Thank you for believing in us, and not giving up on us.” I write this article to encourage those of you who are in youth ministry who have not had the “perfect group” to fall in your lap. Be encouraged! Love them, accept them, teach them, earn their trust, and most importantly, don’t give up. Don’t give up on them, and don’t give up on yourself! God will honor your prayers. He could have saved the three Hebrew children before they entered the fire, but he waited, and when they didn’t give in, God showed off!
David Brazed is a licensed Minister with the UPCI. He is currently the Youth Pastor at The First United Pentecostal Church of Kinder in Kinder, Louisiana Pastors: T.L. Smith and Rod NeSmith.
“How Can I Change These Kids?” By David H. Brazeel