I know when I’m going through heartache the last thing I want to do is thank God. I’m not thinking, “This is really going to help me later in life.” No. I’m wondering how I’m going to heal and move on. But the truth is, a powerful way to connect to someone is through sharing personal experiences. It’s painful sometimes, but you have to remember God’s glory shines the brightest in our darkest hour … and that’s when lives change.
People who have suffered great hardships, overcome overwhelming obstacles and kept their faith in a dark and hopeless world inspire those around them and have incredible influence in leading others to Jesus. CIY relates to students and unites diverse individuals under the banner of Kingdom work through storytelling – just like Jesus did. We feel an intense connection when we see or hear the words, “based on a true story.” This year’s SuperStart team will tell many true testimonies – including those of CIY’s Patrick Snow, senior director of weekend events.
“They will not be made up stories with dramatic lines, they will legitimately be our stories,” Snow said of the testimonies that he and others will share from the SuperStart stage this tour. “You can’t tell the story of what God has done for you without it being personal. It’ll be the same for these preteens. They’ll have to be able to share pieces of them to be able to do that, but it’ll be worth it because when we share our stories with other people it gives them the opportunity to see how God has helped us – shows them God – and gives them the opportunity to put their hope and faith and trust in Him.”
I’ve had the privilege of speaking to many youth leaders – some of whom share the method in which they’re connecting to their students – and it comes down to being personal. Debbie Detwiler, volunteer youth leader with Calvary Baptist Church in Elkhart, Indiana, said it’s not easy. She has mourned both of her parents, three siblings, experienced a divorce and has lived this past year cancer-free. She inspired me with her evident joy from the Holy Spirit and the way she and her husband, Steve, saturate their lives with God’s Holy Word.
“I had to experience dysfunction in order to connect with the kids in my youth group,” she said. “I raised three kids alone for two years, and it was hard. You never know what God is orchestrating. You just have to think of it as maybe what’s happening to you might be for someone else’s benefit later. God wins. If you’re living for Him, He’s going to bless you.”
Be grateful for whatever battle you’re facing today because when we suffer we grow closer to Christ. He’ll get you through the roughest storms of your life, and later when you have the opportunity to tell others of the miraculous things God has done you’ll have the power to influence the listener with the tagline, “based on a true story.”
Becca Haines is a communications coordinator for Christ In Youth. Share your personal testimony by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.