I Can’t Look at Kids the Same
As I visit campuses each week I see a sea of faces – many of them, frankly, I don’t know. But sometimes God gives me just a glimpse of the difference He is making in some of these kids’ lives. Five weeks ago, I encountered one of those glimpses.
A young man approached me and blurted out, “My counselor told me I should tell you something, would that be okay?”
As we stepped outside for a little privacy the young man shared how he had been harshly bullied in 6th grade, so much so, he had given up on life itself. He acquired a rope, learned how to tie a knot that would break his neck while hanging – and resigned himself to imminent suicide. He went on to say that on that fateful day a friend had invited him to our youth group that meets in a barn around the corner from his school. He decided to come and give it one last chance. He was welcomed, made to feel special and loved it.
“That was three years ago” he sighed, “And I haven’t stopped coming since.” He paused, “My counselor thought you’d like to know that I was going to kill myself until I came here – just wanted to let you know and to say thanks.”
Wow! That was five weeks ago and it still gives me chills!
I can honestly say I haven’t looked at a young person the same since that encounter. Each student we interact with often comes with dark secrets and heavy baggage they’ve been carrying for years. They often seem hopeless and are looking for somewhere to belong – sometimes it almost feels as if this is a last ditch effort to see if anyone cares. We can be that person! By engaging in their world, by visiting them where they spend the majority of their lives, we can make a difference.
We feel a heavy responsibility to EVERY young person we work with. We try to engage students, remember their names, show them a good time, and demonstrate that we care. We ultimately know however that its God’s love in us that draws them. We can offer temporary comfort—but only He can take away their burdens once and for all and offer them rest for their souls.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” -Matthew 11:28, 29-
Read more about teen suicide today and what we can do about it.
is a 20-year youth ministry veteran who has worked full time for Campus Life for the last 14 years. He serves on two campuses weekly and runs several campus ministries both on and off campus in partnerships with local churches. Rob has been interviewed several times in Jonathan's podcasts on TheSource4YM.com and Jonathan drew from his expertise throughout his book, Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation. Rob serves on the national Campus Life team at Youth for Christ USA.