Jr. High -

Sixth grader gets a warm hug from the Lord at MIX —

By Becca Haines

Expressing vulnerability to a group of peers can be terrifying for a sixth grader.

So imagine Emma Macaluso’s fear as she sat in a circle with her small group at MIX, each person sharing a struggle or something that was on their heart after three days of diving into the story of Elijah. Each person’s story got one step closer to her, and she wondered what she would be able to share.

 

This was the first event Emma had experienced with this group. When it finally got to her turn, it felt like her heart was pounding out of her chest. But Emma mustered up the courage to share a statement that had devastated her life and impacted her family in the past year: “My grandma has cancer.”

 

Emma said she hadn’t shared that struggle with anyone in the group before that moment, and it felt like a warm hug from the Lord as she received love and support from each and every member of the small group that night.

 

“I was crying a lot,” Emma said, smiling a day later. “It felt good to let them know, and a lot of them could relate. I was thankful – that’s what I felt. It still hurts to know my grandma is hurting, but I know God is there and He’s taking care of everything. It’s all going to be OK.”

 

Moments like this happen often at MIX – when students are inspired by their peers to break down their barriers and share their hearts and lean on each other for the first time as God’s Church. MIX Director Taylor Brown said it’s a beautiful thing to witness as youth leaders celebrate victories with students every summer.

 

“For the first time for a lot of middle schoolers, they’re realizing their faith is their own – not their parents’ faith,” he said, “and when they’re plugged into a church, they’re going to be surrounded by people who love them. That’s what the Kingdom is all about, and they may be experiencing that for the first time at MIX. It’s just great to see – it’s a huge milestone that we love to celebrate.”