We gave up our final set of Florida license plates today so I guess it’s official; we’re South Dakota residents. The Indian School year is winding down. We are just a few weeks away from prom (held at the local casino) and graduation scheduled for a few weeks after that. It is amazing to think that we have been here almost a full school year already.
Someone asked me the other day if there have been any surprises in my ministry that I didn’t quite expect. The kids are pretty much what I anticipated although I probably couldn’t have foreseen the depth of the problems that many face. These kids are incredible: creative, funny and wanting to be loved, looking for purpose and finding their way in the world just like normal teenagers.
Unlike most American teenagers, however, they have already experienced a lifetime of dysfunction and pain that most people never will. They know poverty, abandonment, rape and incest, drug dependency, alcoholism and death plus a whole lot more. They have experienced it all firsthand.
I told my wife Kristen that if I was a brand new Youth Pastor this position probably would have crushed me under the enormity of the need. Having fifteen years’ experience prepared me to know the issues, but this is Youth Ministry at warp speed.
Six months in and I have just scraped the surface. There is so much potential for the ministry that can happen here. I am just beginning to find a place on campus; people think to call me before an event or incident instead of me finding out about things afterward. I feel incredibly blessed to have been placed here by God and to be continually discovering how I can make a difference in the lives of teenagers.