Adventures In Loving Others

I just returned from speaking at the National Youth Workers Convention in Memphis. It was the fulfillment of a dream I’ve had for a long time. As much as I enjoyed every moment of this dream, there was one moment that stood out more than any other and it had nothing to do with the convention.

I was rooming with a guy named Kent. I had just met him a few hours earlier. It was about 11:00 p.m. and he had to return his rental car to the airport. I told him I;d tag along because, well, who wants to do that stuff alone.

We arrived at the airport, dropped off the car and had called our Uber to come pick us up. Now, let’s rewind for just minute.

Before we ever decided to go to the airport, we sat in the opening service of the convention  and listened to a man named Bob Goff. Bob is unique, funny,  quirky, but above all, loving. He shared many stories and challenged us to love those who were not like us, the creepy people.

Bob shared a story from the Bible about a man named Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus was blind. He had been shouting to get the attention of Jesus but those around him tried to quiet him. Jesus heard that man’s call and asked “What do you want?” Bartimaeus said, I want to see” and Jesus answered his request. It was that simple. Now, back to the airport.

As Kent and I were walking to the where the Uber was picking us up a young Arabic lady in her mid 20’s with a young sleeping child cried out “Can you help me!?”. Kent was closest so he engaged with the girl and we listened to her story.

She told us that she had just landed from Dubai and was fleeing an abusive relationship. Her parents were not going to pick her up, they had turned her away. She told us that she had been considering calling the police to take her child and put him child services until she could pull her life together. Then she cried out.

We asked her, “What do you want to do?” She told us she had a friend in Indianapolis. Kent was a pastor in Indianapolis. They talked for a moment and he gave her some info on the church, etc. The Uber driver had arrived but we had no idea how he was going to react when he had to wait for this young lady’s luggage, etc. God already had that covered.

Our driver was Maurice. Best Uber driver ever. Maurice was a minister and, wait for it…. lived in Indianapolis for 20 years. Maurice, waited for luggage, loaded the car, and took us to the bus station. It was about midnight and it took about 30 minutes to get this young lady settled. Maurice willingly and happily participated in this small miracle.

We bought this young lady a bus ticket to Indianapolis and some food. She was very tired, confused, and emotionally broken. She didn’t really understand why we were helping her. In Dubai she had her own business and was very self reliant. She didn’t like being in this position of being helped. I told her that we had all been there and it was her turn, then I told her the story of  Bartimaeus.

She didn’t completely understand the story, but she got the gist of it. I told her, you cried out, God heard, and we showed up. The last thing we did was pray for her and she said. “That wasn’t so bad.” She had little to no knowledge about God or Jesus, but at least now, she had the evidence of His great for her.

Wherever you are young lady, I hope you are well and that maybe, one day, you will tell your son the story of night you cried out, God heard, and God answered with a couple of youth workers who were just happy to be a part of God loving you .

 

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My 6 Awesome Moments From The National Youth Workers Conference

 

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Once a year I try to get to a conference or training to hone my skills an refresh my soul and this year I went to the National Youth Workers Conference in Nashville, Tn.  have been to about 8-10 of the NYWC over the bast 23 years  and God has used it to impact my life in many ways. Which means, I could not have picked a better topic for my 300th post  as this blog exists to impact youth workers so they can impact students. I saw youth workers, Jesus, and my own life  through fresh eyes this week so let me share six moments that made an impact on me.

# 1 Audrey Assad

I knew who Audrey was as an artist as I had seen her albums show up on iTunes, but I had never heard her live. That changed this week as Audrey led worship in a few of the session at the NTWC. Maybe it was just where I was at spiritually this yea that made there songs and her voice resonate with me. The three songs she sang, that I remember were

Each of these songs struck a raw nerve in me that had me crying, praying, and longing for more of God  and less of me. Worshipping with 3500 hundred other youth workers did not hurt to make this an amazing moment. Shane and Shane, were also there but, well they’re Shane and Shane, nuff’ said.

#2 Bob Goff

I had heard of Bob Goff but never heard hims speak before  this week. Bob is author of the book Love Does and to say  Bob was a funny and challenging speaker is like saying The Beatles were a pretty good band. The best way to describe Bob is to use his own quote, “I make coffee nervous” His message  “to walk in love” was just what I needed.

#3 Spiritual Direction Session

Every year I go to the NYWC I try to do one of two things 1) Meet with a conference Pastor or 2) Meet with a Spiritual Director. Both are there to be sounding boards, counselors, and good listeners. I chose a spiritual director this year because  I see a spiritual directors role as one who see past my veneer to what God is doing in my world. Three words rang true for me

– Desert

-Permission

– Habits (Disciplines)

Each of these words have context but I cannot elaborate as I am still  working through them.

#4 Connecting with New Friends

Sometimes I skip sessions to connect with new people and this year I had a great opportunity to meet some Facebook friends. Some of these friends include

  • Eric Gargus (he worked with an exhibitor called Interlinc this year) He was a fun guy to hang out with and get to know.
  • Heather Campbell with Youthmin.org and her friend Elisa Fernandez. We met for the first time at a local coffee shop to just talk and get to know each other. I really felt like I walked away with two new friends and a term of endearment: The Relic. Pretty awesome.
  • Marjorie from Fuselage was also a treat to meet.
  • Tony Jacobs is the YSNetwork Coordinator and I only knew him from some posts on the site, but after running in to him on his way to dinner I tapped along and got to know him and a few others (Erin Jackson) around the table.
  • I roomed with George Lynch and his Senior Pastor. His hipster mustache and great conversation about youth ministry made him a favorite with me.

I attended a Family group where we talked about theology and student ministry with the same small group over two days. If I remember they were Scott, Olivia, Rick, Bryon, and Ron. Good people.

If I met you, but left you out, my apologies.

#5 Gathering with Old Friends

My roommate this time around was Roger Ball. He and I were youth pastors  in the 90’s in Vero Beach Fl. He is now a Lead Pastor, which I think is clearly a step backwards in his career (just kidding) He brought his youth pastor and we had a great time.

I also got to hang with the gang from Interlinc including Allan Hardin, Allen Weed, Jerry Davis, Mark Pittman, and Sheridyn Williamson. These guys are a blast. Check out their stuff.

Tim Eldred is the president of Christian Endeavor and we like to say we’ve known each other for too long.

I got to hang with my long time Twitter friend Gavin Richardson, his web design par excel-lance.  He’s a cool dude and I am excited about his transition of roles.

#6 Seminars with Impact

I attended a few seminars between all the meeting and greeting and they included

  • God, the Definitive Mix: An Age Appropriate Narrative Hermeneutic
  • Aging in Youth Ministry
  • Moving Your Team From Chaperones to Shepherds

The presenters did a fantastic job.

I am sure there were other great moments but these are the ones that really stuck out to me. If you ever get a chance to attend a NYWC, I highly recommend it.

See you in Atlanta.

Did you attend this years NYWC in Nashville? What was your favorite moment?