Key Takeaway: Find Yourself Network
“One of the biggest things you can do is get connected to a network”
“You need a support system”
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00:13 Hey everybody, happy October, a happy pastor appreciation month. That's right. In case you didn't know that 31 days of October or not just the countdown to fall break Halloween or the holiday season. It's also the month you should be appreciating pastors worldwide. So if you are a pastor, I appreciate you. If you have a pastor you should go. I appreciate them, but this month that youth ministry booster, we wanted to celebrate a particular group of pastors and that is all the women and youth ministry. So if you are a full time, part time volunteer, small group leading love and students, woman in Youth Ministry, this month is for you and almost every stinking day. This month we have got an exciting interview with a woman and youth ministry who's doing an incredible job and has an amazing story to tell, but more than just hearing from them. We want to celebrate and so if you are or know of a woman in youth ministry, go to www.youthministrybooster.com/giveaway and we're going to give away an annual subscription box of their choosing and a year of booster. For a woman in youth ministry, he's doing an amazing job, so youth ministry, men you can enter by nominating someone. You're going to give the gift Tube and women and youth ministry. Please sign up. We want you to have a gift we want to give to you a year long celebration to thank you for what you do and to love you for loving young people. All right, that's it for me. Enjoy this interview and I'll catch you back at the end of the episode with more details.
01:43 Hello and welcome to the youth ministry booster podcast. My name is Chad Higgins and I will be our host today. I will let my guests enter dues herself. Tell you a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where you doing student ministry? What do we need to know about today?
02:03 Yeah. Hi, my name is Ana. I do ministry at Trinity Community Church in Norwood, Massachusetts and nobody really knows where it is because it's kind of an obscure little town, about 30, 35 minutes outside of Boston. So we're in New England. We're kind of in the thick of it. Um, yeah. Serving in a pretty average size above average. Jed tells me church, and it's been great. Yeah, I've been there for now a little over five years.
02:34 Right. So right outside of Boston, right? Yep. So here's the thing, I'm going to be honest, I don't hear that thick Boston accent that like, I think the rest of the country thinks. So when you say that you're from around Boston, what's up with that? Have you lived there all your life? Have you just worked that accident out? Have we not said enough words like car things like
03:00 for us to hear it? Yeah. Um, so I guess I'm a little bit unique in that I was born in Brazil. I came to the United States when I was four years old, but I have been living. I grew up in Lynn, Massachusetts, which again, 30, 35 minutes outside of Boston, but on the other side. So in the north shore side. Um, so I grew up in Lynn and I don't know, the Boston accent unfortunately. Never really stuck. I just got stuck with this pretty average American English. So what you're telling me is you only learn to drop the r before the age of three is. That's it? Yeah.
03:44 It's bizarre. I mean, my daughter, I don't know if this is intentional or not, but she, she's about to be two and she doesn't pronounce her rs very well. Maybe it's a toddler thing, but hey, maybe she's got New England in there somewhere. That's awesome. Alright. So tell me, tell me your story, getting involved in student ministry, where does that come about? When did that all happen? Yeah. Um, let's see. I was in high school and I grew up Catholic. My entire life is about my freshman year and God totally rocked my family's world. Um, it's, we're going to dive into a little bit of my testimony here, but yeah, so I'm a freshman in high school trying to navigate all of that as a firstborn, the immigrant kid, like trying to figure out the whole, you know, life as a, as a teenager, um, and my dad gets mysteriously sick, like we don't know what's going on with him.
04:52 He's just got all these issues happening where like, he couldn't hold his head up straight and talk like it was very slurred, really weird. So we'd go to doctor after doctor and tell us, Oh, you know what, he's just like high levels of stress. He needs to just chill. And my mom and I are looking at each other like, that's weird, that doesn't sound right, continues getting worse, and we come to find out my dad being the entrepreneur that he was, he had started a cleaning business and a construction company, um, and all of that just started to fall apart with his health issues and then come to find out that we were months and months behind on bills. So this is just one thing adding up after the other. My Mom's super stressed out and I'm the first born kid who speaks English. So I have to like fill out all the paperwork and pay the bills and helps.
05:39 I'm seeing all this behind the scene stuff and my family life's falling apart in my parents' marriage is falling apart. It's just ugly. Um, so one of my mom's friends went to a Brazilian pentecostal church at the time and says, Hey, you know what, why you give this church thing a chance, why don't you give God a chance to break in? Because she's like, I know you guys are Catholic and this is weird for you to like branch out, but try it. There's a pastor coming who's going to pray for healing? So My, my dad is like, you know, whatever, like I'm at the end of my game here. So we go to this church, there's people speaking in tongues. I'm a teenager who grew up in the Catholic church. I'm just totally freaked out, like looking around like one in the world. Give me out of here.
06:29 I'm so totally out of my context and the pastor has this moment where he looked straight into my dad's eyes and he's like, look man, God is telling me, telling me to pray for you. Um, so can I do that? My Dad's like, yeah, sure. He like, goes up to the, to the stage or the altar and pastor starts. I'm kind of rattling off everything that my family had been going through in the past couple of months and it wasn't like, you know, my mom's friend had had told him or something. It was just divine revelation because this guy had just flown in from Brazil. Um, so he's rattling everything off. He's like, God wants to deliver you, are you open to that? And my dad's like, okay, you just right for me. So they start praying for him in literally all hell breaks loose, ease, blood red, like screaming demonic, like I've never heard this come out of my father of course.
07:25 Um, so he's just like, he falls over on the floor, he's screaming. It's like literal exorcism. And I thought this kind of stuff didn't happen in real life. You at this point? I'm about like 14 or 15. Yeah. So my, my, my mind is blown. My little sister's 10. It's just the two of us and she's watching this. She starts crying and I have to step out of the room with her. But there it was like this three day, I'm Kinda like healing services that the pastor was doing that my parents, after the first night, you know, my dad was, um, that whole, that whole thing happened and he was relieved of that. Um, and they went back to this other two nights. Um, but I can, I can tell you that as crazy as the story sounds, every time that I tell it, I'm like, I wonder if people are going to believe me as crazy as it sounds.
08:20 It is true. And I can attest that this was God's healing hand at work. It wasn't some kind of weird hocus pocus stuff because my father went from being this angry shut off like father figure in my life. Of course I loved him and everything that would work so hard to get straight a's and I'd come home and show him my report cards and you just give me like a handshake. He wasn't this like affectionate dad, you know. Um, but after that weekend where God delivered him from whatever was happening in his life, um, just, it was a complete one 80. He went from being this like closed off father figure to this dad that like, would it like, I remember two weeks after that he just gave me the first unsolicited hug in a long time. So I like to say that my heavenly father intervened in my earthly father's life to kind of show me a glimpse of his love.
09:21 Um, and that's just like the tip of the iceberg with that whole story, like my parents are about to lose their house and that church where this deliverance happened, um, they banded together to give us enough money to save it. And my parents are still living in it to this day. Yeah. So it's just, um, it's a family testimony. Most people have individual testimonies or they come to Christ. My entire family was just shook up. God just really use that entire scenario to bring us all to faith in him. Um, so yeah, being 14 and 15 at the time, I didn't have your traditional. I grew up in the church and loved my student pastor type of thing. Um, I did get involved with the student ministry in the area and they were really cool and let's see, I think it was senior year, junior and senior year and I'm looking like what am I going to do with the rest of my life?
10:15 I thought about going into art therapy but wasn't super confident in that. Then I just started googling like Christian colleges because I knew I love God, but I didn't know what to do with that. Um, and I came across Gordon College's website, um, which is not so far from where my parents live and I was looking through their majors list and youth ministry was on there. I'm like, well, you can, you can do that. You can get a major in youth ministry. And that just blew my mind and be like, yes, yes. You strengthen your arms for dodge ball. So math, right? Yes, yes. Um, so I was just shocked and you know, just being on fire for God, it was like, you know, what God, I'm, I'm going to apply to just this one school and if I get in because I didn't really have like the highest GPA and if I get in then that's what I'm going to do with the rest of my life. So not very smart. I tell my kids this story now and I'm like, don't, don't do what I did. Don't just apply to one school. It was crazy leap of faith and God let it happen. But uh, be a little wiser than I was. Um, so yeah, I went to Gordon College for Christian ministries and I've been doing this whole crazy thing since. That's awesome. What a powerful story.
11:41 Your years of student ministry so far, powerful moments, funny moments like what's one of your favorite youth ministry moments so far? My favorite thing by far is seeing kids that go through our youth ministry, stick around because if they stick around after college and they come back to church, you know, Christmas break, thanksgiving break, um, and then spend their summers and fellowship with the kids that they graduated with. For me that is, that is like all time youth ministry when, um, because like we all know the statistics, so I just get, I'm just super proud of those kids that, you know, love our church and they still coming back. They'll come back. Um, but favorite, you've missed your moment. The freshest one is. How many years has it been now? It's been two or three years. Say three years. Three years ago, one of my, one of my students that I was really close with, and I know for all youth ministry leaders that are listening, you all have that one, that one kid that you love, 'em.
12:50 We don't want to say favorites because that's kind of a mess. That word. Yes, there will just be honest. Uh, I always feel bad that they're favorites, but one of my favorite kids, she, um, you know, we shared a room on our mission trip. We hung out so many times together, you know, I loved this kid. She came to me one day and she's like, you know, what, what do you, how do you feel about homosexuality? And I just answered it in like the worst possible way. I like, I forget what was going on that day, but I just kind of like blew up. I was like, oh no, that's wrong. And I didn't know that. She was like asking for a friend, you know, asking for herself like that she was struggling with these same sex attractions. Um, and I was just super, just wasn't thinking.
13:45 I was like, no, that's wrong. The Bible says that's wrong, et Cetera, et Cetera, Yada Yada. And she just took that really hard. Um, and to start to distance herself a little bit. Um, and then, uh, finally came out that she liked another girl and started a relationship with that girl. Um, so it just wasn't handled in, I'd say the best way. I think myself, I could've done a better job and since then I've learned from the mistakes and have looked into how to handle that in a more loving and approachable way. Um, and then the church is what we didn't do a great job of kind of walking with her through it. She kind of was hurt and stepped back and kind of isolated herself away and disconnected from the youth group. Um, so this year she graduated from high school and her sister, one of our youth group graduates.
14:39 It has been, um, working with why wham in Hawaii for about five years now. Um, so she invited her sister to come to this teen camp that they do for two weeks and her, her sister, um, my favorite kid was like, yeah, I'll, I'll go. It's a free trip to Hawaii. And she told me she went to this trip with her, no walls built up and she wasn't open to God at all because of what had happened with the church, which is like, hey, you know what, I'm a senior and graduated and it's a great vacation before I go off to college. So she goes on the trip, goes to the camp and God totally knocks your socks off and she comes back to Christ and she comes back into it like this crazy love relationship with God that, and it was all restored. Um, she like gets baptized again on her two week trip.
15:40 It was just amazing to hear her come back and inherent come back and say, you know what, I'm sorry for the grudges I've held against you in the church. And I've apologized to her plenty of times before, but I'll like, you know what, I'm sorry again for messing up the way I did back three years ago. Um, but yeah, that's my favorite youth ministry moment. It has been watching God restore and redeem not only that broken relationship between us but this child that stepped away from him and you was choosing to live in a life of sin. And he totally knocked their socks off again. It was just amazing. And right now she's um, she went off to college for two year program I think. But after that she has plans to join, um, why wham in the circuit riders to go spread the Gospel to campuses across the United States. Like how crazy is that?
16:36 That's so cool how we get this thought in our head, you know what I mean? Like, like, oh, like I, I need to do this so this can happen in these kids lives or man, I really knocked out talk out of the water or whatever. You know, like we think that way. I love the fact that one of your favorite ministry moments is this way to like you at least look at it and go, I kinda got it wrong here, right? Like I, I, I said something maybe not the right way and to see God move and you know what I mean, like sometimes in spite of us, right? Um, is such a powerful thing. And I think when we hang our hat on these great moments, not of like, Hey, I really killed it. Right? But like our great moments are ones where we look at it and go, God is huge, right? And God is all right. I think, I think when we see those as our favorite moments, those lead to longevity because then we're just waiting around and expecting God to move. Right, and I think that that's such a powerful story.
17:57 Yeah. I'm not gonna lie. Just that broken relationship was probably one of the hardest moments in youth ministry for me. Just like knowing I messed up and like, hey, it was also a realization like, like, I'm human too. I'm going to mess up. I'm not going to be the perfect youth ministry leader. It was, it was humbling. It was hard. And the reason why I share it is because I'm sure that there's somebody else out there who feels like, man, I really screwed that one up, but God is the one who redeems that. He's the one that fixes things. It's not us.
18:29 Yeah, absolutely. So that right there is great advice for us all. But yeah, a different thing. I want you to think on, if we could get at a time machine, which I'm really open for one day and you could go back in time. I mean, you are brand new on the job. This isn't just your first year in student ministry, this is your first day on the job. What advice would you give yourself?
19:00 I think it took me like one or two years, over two years to really get connected to a network in my area.
19:10 I think one of the biggest things for me has been finding a network.
19:16 so I'd say like, hey young youth ministry and I know you're totally gung ho about teenagers and Jesus right now and you want to just like when lives for Christ, but get connected to people in the area because they're going to be such a huge port system. Like even I met with my network like about a week ago. It's just so great like people in your area, like especially in New England, it's rare. It's hard to find other people who do what you do. So to just get together and be able to be honest and open and vents a little bit and get a little bit of the crazy out. It's so, so valuable. So yeah, if there's anybody listening that is a first year, find your network. There are so many. So many out there, it's going to be at least one in your area.
20:13 I'm obviously going to be very partial to that and I will say like as totally as a shameless plug or whatever, if you do not have a network, we want to help you with that. At Youth Ministry booster, we have phenomenal mastermind groups to meet every single month, the video chat that you can be a part of a and then we have weekly soul care care calls and those kinds of things and so I completely agree with you. So valuable. I think finding those people that we can share life with because let's be like student ministry is hard and it's weird, right? Like you can't like talk with your friend that works at the bank and try to like relate with them, you know what I mean? Like what you do and what they do and all those kinds of things. And so, and I think finding whether they're physical or whether they're these great like online venues where we can meet through video chat are extremely, extremely valuable and we want what we want healthy youth ministry practices and I think that that's found a through healthy relationships with other ministers as we grow.
21:25 Challenge and inspire one another. Yes, get connected. People met Anna. I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing your story today and it has been very encouraging to me. Uh, I, I have loved so much of what you said today because it has all been about the lord and I, I can't thank you enough for that, uh, in, in the midst of, as we think about ministry being about us or the work, it is solely about God. And I am so thankful for that. I'm so thankful that he uses amazing people like yourself and really weird people like me. And so thank you guys for joining us today on Youth Ministry booster. We want to make sure that you plug in tomorrow as we hear from another amazing woman and youth ministry.
22:20 There you go. That's our interview with Anna. A wonderful, powerful testimony of life change from the New England area. And thanks for sharing. And again, the support system is everything. If you don't have a network, we want you to get plugged in. We want you to check it out. Chad made the plug. I'll give the website www.youthministrybooster.com. Find a network. Find a group, get, as Ana said, some of the crazy out with youth, but who understand and care, we'll see you tomorrow