An Unexpected Visitor…

We had an incredible night at youth group last night. We had 20 students and 5 leaders. Played some soccer, had a lesson on temptation that the kids seemed to learn form, and had an ice cream sundae party. We had teams of 5-on-5 for soccer and had enough students not participating and/or waiting to be subbed in that it even looked like we were at a real soccer game with an audience and fans.

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One of my 12th grade girls brought 4 friends. Along with those 4 visiting students, we had one other visitor that I couldn’t quite figure out why he was there. He clearly did not fall into the category of 6th-12th grade and he didn’t look like he belonged there. I introduced myself to him and asked him some questions. What I got was not what I expected. I will leave his name out for confidentiality purposes. Here is a brief glimpse of how the conversation went:

Me: “Hey man, how are you? My name is Paul and I am the youth pastor here!”

Guy: “Hey, I’m ________ but I don’t like to talk to people ever since my dad died three years ago! I haven’t really talked to anyone since then.”

Me: “Ok man, I just wanted to introduce myself. I’m sorry to hear about your dad.”

Guy: “what I don’t get is why he had to kill himself in front of me…I mean, couldn’t he have waited until he was alone?”

Me: “wow…again man, I’m very sorry to hear that and that you had to go through that!”

Guy: “yeah, that’s why I’m trying to be a better father to my children than my dad was to me…”

Then he pulled out his phone and started showing me pictures of his kids. One was 3 months old, one was 2 years old, and one was 5 years old. After finding out this information, I did some quick calculations in my head and confirmed that this guy was in fact not in the category of 6th-12th grade. Even though I knew from the beginning that he was in his mid-twenties, I thought I should ask how old he was. He said he was 25. The question running through my mind this whole time was, “Why is this guy here at my youth group?”

After our few games of soccer in the gym, we all went into the library (our temporary youth room for the night…so we could be closer to where the ice cream would be served) for the lesson. During the lesson, out of my periphs (peripheral vision) I kept seeing the guy walk back and forth past the youth room. One of my leaders went out to see what he wanted. I didn’t see my leader for the rest of the lesson. When we went into the fellowship hall for ice cream, I saw the leader and this visitor sitting there and talking. I was very proud of him for seeing a need and attempting to fill it. It turns out that the guy was looking for help and just needed someone to talk to. The conversation didn’t last very long, but from what I gathered they talked about how the guy thought he was too messed up and bad for God to love Him. I hope that the youth leader who talked to him made an impact in his life and that he will realize that it’s never a bad time to turn to Jesus, no matter how bad or messed up you are!

The reason I write all of this and have been thinking a lot about it since last night is because I strongly feel that God brings people into our lives for a reason. I couldn’t understand why that guy was there, and I was very uncomfortable with him being around my students, but it ended up being ok and I hope that God spoke to him through one of my youth leaders! Sometimes people just need someone to talk to or someone to listen to them. That guy told me that he doesn’t like talking to people but after I asked a simple question, he just started unloading all of this information (about his past, his dad’s suicide, his kids) on me. I didn’t know the guy, but maybe God sent him to my church last night for a reason.

I would like some feedback about this, so please respond with your thoughts.

I’ll leave you with this: Are we making ourselves available to be used by God in the simplest of situations? If you ran into this situation in your youth ministry, how would you respond/what would you do?

– paulg

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3 Responses to An Unexpected Visitor…

  1. emergingyouth says:

    Paul
    Good thoughts and a very good challenge to us all. You never know when we might be “entertaining” angels in disguise. Our youth ministry exists not just for the students, but for their families, our community, and really our world.
    so let’s welcome and embrace everyone who enters our doors. God is probably leading them there and we might be the only Jesus they ever meet.
    Of course, we must also be on strict alert for those whack jobs out there looking to get involved in our programs for the wrong reasons, but that is why God gives us youth pastors common sense and a spirit of discernment.

  2. Paul,
    I fully agree with Dan. You used discernment and judgment by going up to him yourself and checking out what was going on. I think it’s hard to minister to non-youth during you hours, so I applaud your efforts for being of a mind to talk for even a time with him. Youth Ministry is about the whole family after all.

    Your youth leader also must be applauded for stepping in and checking in on him. Albeit he was probably checking to see if he was indeed a whako there for the wrong reasons, God used him there and in that guys life.

    Like Dan said, it take discernment and sound judgment, all of which you and your leader used!

  3. Mark Allen says:

    Paul, not sure how I would handle this, sounds like you did the best you could. I know of a big church who recently invested in a bullet proof podium and puts two security guards with guns in the front row to protect the pastor. There are some crazy people out there. But you did what you could, you did the right thing by figuring out who he was, when you saw that he wasn’t supposed to be there, it would have been appropriate to ask him to leave. I’d even encourage him to come back when you have some office time, make an appointment so that you could give him all of your attention but not during youth group. If you sensed that he was at all unstable, suicidal, or could potentially harm someone, calling the cops would have been the best thing. Overall, sounds like you insulated the kids, took care of the guys needs and handled it well.

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