‘Youth Ruth’ was a nickname given to me from some of the youth in my church. There are other Ruth’s that make up our congregation (surprise, surprise given the biblical name!), so this was a way to set me apart from the other Ruth’s. It also rhymes with ‘youth’. Bonus. I’m a youth worker in training now – hence the name. I haven’t yet written anything about my new role as a youth work trainee so I thought I had better fix that.
Since September, I have been a trainee youth worker within my church through a charity called South West Youth Ministries (SWYM). They partner with local churches and place trainees across the South West for placement based training in youth or children and families work. Having no experience in youth work whatsoever, I wanted to learn and to grow in this area and use it to help out within church.
‘Youth Ruth’ never thought she would do youth work. Ever. The stigma attached to youth work filled me with dread. I remember what it was like to be in high school and to be a teenager. Tough times. I felt worried that if I entered the daunting field of youth work I would get bullied and picked on by unruly youths. Two years ago I said to God: ‘I don’t want to do youth work.’ Never tell God no. He will surprise you.
God has completely changed my heart and my mind about young people and youth work. I have found myself stepping out of my comfort zone, leading small groups, speaking in assemblies (me and public speaking are becoming more acquainted), hanging out in a youth centre with 40+ young people (some more unruly than others, but not in the way that I had imagined), chilling out at school lunch clubs, seeing a group of young people come forward because they want to set up a Christian Union, having a laugh with and getting to know some brilliant people… and it’s only been just over a month. Awesome.
Besides planning sessions, meeting young people and reading lots about theology and youth work (I do love to read…), I have been blessed with making some amazing friends through SWYM. They are all wonderful, Spirit-filled, people-loving, banter-laughing, kindhearted, kingdom-focused children of God. And we all just click. Thankful beyond measure for my SWYM family.
Life is full to the brim of the unexpected. I say embrace the unexpected. Step out in faith. Face the challenge head on. You’re not alone as you take this new step. You’re never alone. Prepare to be challenged, changed and transformed. Who knows where you’ll end up and who you’ll meet along the way.
One thing I know to be a mission statement at this moment in my life are these following verses:
O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood,
and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do.
Now that I am old and grey,
do not abandon me, O God.
Let me proclaim your power to this new generation,
your mighty miracles to all who come after me. Psalm 71:17-18
Since I was a child I have always had this awareness of God. I can’t explain it. I just know. As I have grown in my faith I find myself telling others about how wonderful the steadfast love and faithfulness of God is. Even in the hardest of times, I know this to be true. He is a God who has stepped into our world to bring us back to Him – to restore what was broken because of our slimy sin.
God has made a way out of this dark, evil age and He has defeated suffering and death forever. Death could not hold Him back. He has burst forth into our very present world with nail-scarred hands and feet, offering us a right relationship with a Father who cares and loves us more than we can begin to imagine. Although we should be separated from God forever because of our sinful hearts, God loved us so much that He made a way for us to come back to Him.
As I get old and dare I say grey, I want to continue to tell the next generation what Jesus has done. The hope found in the cross and resurrection of Christ is a message for everyone. It offers a broken, hurting world a hope, a future and a promise. It deals with the suffering, the darkness, the hopelessness. We may not understand the ‘why’ behind every disaster, hurt and broken heart, but we have confidence knowing that we have a God who is making all things new. We were made for so much more than what we see and experience now.
When I walk alongside young people as they battle the hard times and enjoy the great times, I know that God is with me. I am never alone and by His grace and faithfulness, with the help of caring youth workers across the country, our young people today are never alone either. I am so thankful for the next generation.
Now let’s watch a video combining some rock music with a superhero, ‘coz that’s what the young people like right? 😉