Listen Closely

Listen Closely

haleybiopic

Haley Lavergne participated in the Student Leader Apprentice (SLA) program for two years: 2012 in Nashville, TN and 2013 in Glorieta, NM. She is currently studying at University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In her spare time, you will find her outside in a hammock immersed in a good book or creating art with various mediums.

 

“Welcome to SLA, where questions about the future aren’t allowed and getting thrown outside of your comfort zone is guaranteed.”

Although I wasn’t greeted with these exact words when arriving at Glorieta, they certainly sum up my experience. I arrived asking the Lord to move in mighty ways and left in awe of how He exceeded my expectations. Being quiet and being a friend to listen and encourage was the trend for the entire two weeks. It sounds small because I am a small part of what God did. He doesn’t need me but He chooses to use me. What a beautiful God we serve.  I was given the opportunity to watch God use something as simple as truly listening, in such a huge way as He began to heal hurting people. All the while, I had a front row seat listening to fellow SLAers, staffers, campers, site friends, and most importantly: the Lord. I was continually taken back by our innate desire to be heard and known. It was simultaneously: overwhelming, wonderful, powerful and humbling. SLA’s focus on service leadership taught me how truly listening and serving the people in front of me are crucial.

James 5:16a says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” I think much of the healing James talks about also comes from listening. I learned that that’s where ministry happens: in intentional moments packed with sincere love and genuine care for God’s people. Jesus took the time to not only heal people’s physical needs, but He took care of them as human beings with the desire to be loved. He saw desires to be seen, accepted, and deeply known. It went beyond physical healing. He went deeper to care for emotions. He loved past the surface. He loves deep and He loves well. I learned about that at SLA and it is something I am grateful to say I’m still learning.

Do Unto Others

Do Unto Others

Marci Coleman

Marci Coleman is the author of today’s guest post. Marci currently resides in Memphis, TN, where she is working on a degree in Worship Leadership at Visible Music College. She will graduate in the spring of 2014. Marci is a talented singer and guitarist and is beginning to work on an EP. She has worked two summers with MFuge, at Mobile in 2012 and Ridgecrest in 2013.
Philippians 2:1-4 speaks of looking to the interest of others and to consider others better than yourself. What exactly does this look like? I’ve heard this scripture many times before, but until I experienced it in a unique way, my perspective has been completely changed.

One afternoon I decided to go to a Taco Bell drive-through to order a cheap burrito, like every normal college student does. I was home that weekend visiting family, and was familiar with the cashier, who had seen me multiple times before. I had always been a friendly “drive-through customer” to her and she had always served me with kindness and a smile.

As I pulled up to her window to pay, I sensed gloominess from her. I didn’t want to impose on her private life, and especially through a drive-through, but I immediately asked, “How are you?” It was such a unique sensation, but when I asked her this, I could feel the Holy Spirit prompting me to make conversation with this lady. She responded with a sulky, “I’m okay.” So, then, I bluntly asked her, “What’s wrong?” She had no problem with pouring out her troubled soul to me—a death in the family, taking care of her own family, managing her work schedule, and not having enough time to herself. She ended with, “I just need a break. I need strength to get through.”

To be honest, I was a bit shocked that she felt so comfortable telling me these things. It took me a second to grasp what was happening. I responded sympathetically, and told her I would pray for her. I got her name and assured her that she would be prayed for. As I drove away, I immediately started to re-encounter our conversation and wondered if I had said the right things.

At first, I regretted not saying more about the Hope and Strength of Christ. But I couldn’t dwell on what I didn’t do or what I should’ve said. I realized all it took on my part was to listen, to encourage, to look to the interest of others, and to humbly put a cashier’s life situation before my cheap burrito. And that speaks more volume than I can even imagine!

Let us put on the attitude of Christ, having the same love, and seek out those in need! The world makes more sense when it’s not about us. We all need to be reminded that people are truly suffering and going through some hard times and they are ready to talk! We must be ready and willing to listen, even if it is through a Taco Bell drive- through.

May God bless our conversations!

A VP’s Perspective

A VP’s Perspective

AJ Chambers sqr AJ Chamber has a very rewarding history with FUGE.  He has worked 9 summers in various roles, such as track leader, actor, and video producer.  He currently lives in a suburb of Charleston, SC and serves as a high school broadcast journalism and film production teacher.  In his free time, AJ is a Zumba instructor and movie addict.

 

As a FUGE Camps video producer, I get to be a fly on the wall; I see everything as an observer. In these moments, God teaches me so much about our relationship with Him and other believers.

I could be out visiting MFUGE sites trying to fight traffic and the clock in order to capture as many campers as possible, yet gain endless joy from what I see.  It can be as simple as a little girl’s smile as she totally tangles the hair of a camper (who unbeknownst to her is about to spend all evening trying to get it back to normal for worship), or an elderly woman with dementia smiling from ear to ear playing balloon volleyball.  In these moments, I see God’s love for us.  My heart and mind are opened to the reality of how simple life is when you focus on serving God with everything.  These moments fill me welling with emotions.

More importantly, I see that same impact in the lives of those being served and the campers and staffers serving.  It is life-changing and truly inspiring.  I am reminded of what Jesus called us to do in John13:12-14 “When Jesus had washed their feet and put on His robe, He reclined again and said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? You call Me Teacher and Lord. This is well said, for I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”  It is beautiful, inspiring, and joyous to see this action in practice working with FUGE.

The Role of an Adult in the Life of a Teenager

The Role of an Adult in the Life of a Teenager

janas

Today’s guest post comes from one of our favorites,  Jana Spooner.  Jana worked with FUGE for 12 years, and now serves as an associate publisher of women’s books with B&H Publishing Group at LifeWay. Jana is wife to Michael, mom to Abigail, and student ministry volunteer at Central Baptist Hendersonville, TN. She loves all things Texas, coffee, and mexican food.

 

I have spent most of my adult life working with teenagers in some capacity. Sometimes that was Sunday school teacher. Sometimes it was camp staffer. Sometimes it was mentor, worship leader, chaperon, host home mom, lock-in supervisor, homework helper, you name it. I love them.

I love how awkward they are in middle school and how they literally do not stop moving. Ever.

I love how they think they know everything one day and the next day the whole world is a blank slate again.

I love how dramatic they are. Seriously. They are dramatic because everything is important to them. EVERYTHING is SUPER IMPORTANT! Like, OMG…

I love getting texts from them where I have to enlist google to decipher what all the abbreviations mean…IDK what UR talking about…

I’ll be the first one to admit that I feel like an unlikely candidate for student ministry. Suffice it to say, I am not cool. In fact, I am pretty much the opposite of cool. I am not loud or crazy. I’m not silly. I dress conservatively and am fairly reserved most of the time. My kid goes to bed at 8:00 on the dot so my idea of “night life” is limited to Netflix or a good book. And I am perfectly ok with that!

Not only am I not cool, I’m a rule enforcer. At camp, I knock on your door at 6:45 a.m. to make sure you will make it to breakfast on time. I make you drink water and eat vegetables. I don’t let you go back for a second bowl of ice cream. I will shush you.

I don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m cool and that’s why teenagers would like me. So why would they? Because I’m an adult. And they need adults. They need their parents, first and foremost. But even when their parents are godly and loving, they still need other adults. They need people who will love them the way Christ loves them. They need to see what it looks like to live out your faith in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and so on. They need to see that a relationship with Christ extends beyond the walls of the church.

They don’t necessarily need a buddy. They have friends speaking all kinds of messages into their lives every day. They don’t need more of that. They need adults who will speak truth. And who will listen. And love them and value them. That’s why it’s ok that I’m not cool. I don’t need to be. That’s not my role. My role is to model a life fully lived for Christ and the Gospel and to spur them on to do the same.

Be Real

Be Real

AndyBAndy Buckwalter served as a FUGE Bible study leader at Ridgecrest last summer. He currently serves as the Director of Youth Ministry at Crux Youth Ministry. Andy and his wife, Leann, reside in York, Pennsylvania. He has a degree in Youth ministry from Messiah College. Interesting fact about Andy: He once punched a fish underwater because it bit him!

 

Some of us have lived it. All of us have dreaded it. I’m talking about an all too familiar scenario. You are in Bible study, or youth group, and a teenager in the back raises his hand and asks “that” question. The question you went to great lengths to avoid during this Bible study, the one you have been avoiding like the plague for one simple reason. You don’t know the answer.

Now, as the room temperature steadily increases, you have several options. Option one, you can come up with some weak “Sunday school” answer and try to fake your way around it, without actually answering the question and get back to what you wanted to talk about. Option two, disregard their question by saying it is off topic, and say, “we can talk about that another time,” with no intention of doing so. Option three, you throw a bunch of big words at them that you are sure they do not know what they mean (and neither do you). Or option four, fake a heart attack.

But there is another option, and it is one we often forget: Just be real with them. It is ok to say, “I don’t know”. Believe it or not, not knowing everything there is to know about God will not cause you to lose their respect. In fact, being so open with them will gain more respect from them. A technique I have used in the past is to say, “That is a great question. I don’t have an answer for it. What do you guys think?” Turn the question back to the group. Let them discuss it. Feel free to say what you think, but listen first. Be real with them. Some of my best evenings with youth have started with a question that I could not answer, and ended with them dialoguing together about our Lord. Isn’t that what we want?

So the next time this happens, let’s not worry about our pride and how intelligent we look, but rather look to the opportunity God has presented us with.

When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say – Luke 12:11-12