Back in high school, I was lucky enough to be a part of a great group of friends. Some people spend high school looking for a place to belong, but I was lucky enough to find that place early on.
My family had attended First Baptist Church of Enterprise ever since we had moved to town when I was in third grade. Dad had wanted us to visit other churches (mainly because I think he would have been happier at a smaller church), but we joined FBC without ever visiting another church.
I was faithful in my attendance on Sundays and Wednesdays for years. I had become a Christian before we moved to Enterprise, and FBC contributed to my spiritual formation. There were some great men and women who invested in me in those early years, and I am thankful for their doing so. Nevertheless, as high school drew near, I found myself longing for something more.
At the beginning of my sophomore year, I was invited to attend the youth group at First United Methodist Church. Today, student ministries have dynamic names like FireFall, DV8, and The Well… In 1986, First Methodist just called it “youth group.” That first night, I found a place of acceptance. I found encouragement. I was challenged to pursue Christ as never before. I had known Christ as my Savior for years by that time, but that first night, the youth minister spoke to us about seeking to surrender our lives to Christ completely, allowing Him to be Lord of our lives. That night was a turning point in my young life.
Over the next several years, I continued to be a part of that youth group. I was discipled by some Godly men, including that youth minister, Ralph Sigler. I saw the youth group grow from an average of 40 or so meeting every Sunday night to more than 100 teenagers. I participated in retreats, ski trips, dart gun wars, backwards hide and seek, and countless other fun activities. I also built relationships that will outlive this world.
This afternoon, I get to see some of those friends. A group of us are getting together this afternoon, and I will see some friends that I haven’t seen in years. We will talk, we will laugh, and we will just enjoy being with one another.
I can hardly wait.