Wednesday night at JH Collide Youth Group we witnessed God moving in the hearts of young people in mighty ways. We saw nearly twenty students get up, with true bravery in their hearts, to share their stories of how God had been working in their lives.
One young girl said, “before I started coming to Collide, I felt really alone and like no one cared about me, but since I’ve started coming, I no longer feel that way, because I know that God is always here for me.” Another young man said, “I thought I was a mistake, but since I’ve started coming to Collide I realize that I am not a mistake, because God has shown me that.” Another girl, through deep tears shared a similar story of deep depression and sadness, feeling as though she was a mistake, but after coming to Collide, soon found out that God loved her. Many students got up, and through many tears, shared the hurts they are experiencing through deep family struggles. It gave me great joy for them to say, but I know now, that God is with me even though; “my mom has cancer,” “they thought my dad was going to die,” “I lost my brother,” “my parents got divorced,” “I felt alone and unloved.” Their stories were so raw and so real, their hearts so tender.
Many students shared of how they came to know Christ this past year at Collide, had started reading the bible and had started genuinely following Jesus. I see a hunger in their eyes to know Jesus more. It’s not games and food that keep them. It is the power of God and the ministry of the Holy Spirit keeping them connected and coming back each week. At the start of the year we saw around 25 students each week. Then, towards the end of the year we averaged around 40. This past Wednesday night, 57 JH students showed up, not because of games and flashy programming, but because our students know Collide is a place to experience God, grow in their faith and be loved; even in their struggles.
At one point in time, a young man was crying after sharing his story, so two of the high school guys who were there serving got up to go and talk with him and pray with him. That gave me such great joy to see Kendell and Jonathan Svoboda praying with that young man. I am so proud of those young men.
It’s in moments like these when I can’t help but praise God for the work He is doing in and through our youth ministry. I am forever in awe of His greatness and I humbly place myself at His mercy as we seek to help these students find peace for their troubled hearts. I am so thankful for the adult leaders at Collide who have sacrificed so much to love on these young people. I am forever grateful for their partnership in ministry. Thank you Mike, Barb, Erik and Haley, Rusty, Cara, Debra, Leslie, J.P. and Britteny, Mark, Jonathon, Kelli, and Beth.