Rachel Dotzler – Student Pastor, Mesa Campus
Nicely dressed, eyes bouncing around the room, I know you don’t want to be here. Body language showing resistance, not making eye contact, I know you don’t want to be approached. Disappearing into the corners of the room, getting lost in the crowd playing basketball, you want to remain unseen.
But I see you. You have captured my undying attention. You are here and I see you. I see you every week walking into our Central Student Ministries building because you are the ones I want in this place. You are the ones that teach us patience, kindness, and compassion, but most importantly you remind us the lessons life teaches us. God has made you a pillar of strength to endure the troubles that have come your way in this life and I see you. I see your pain. I see your joy. I see that you are capable of changing the world even if your circumstances have told you otherwise. You need to know that I am championing for you. You need to know that I believe in you even when I see the brokenness that resides in you. You need to know that you are wanted here, here in CSM, here at Central, here at church where all are welcome to be known and to be seen for who they are.
I see you, the one that lingers by the trash can, refusing to take another step forward into the room. I see you every week and I will not stop inviting you in further or giving you a high five. I see you, because you don’t deserve what has happened in your past, but you deserve to be known, you deserve to be heard, and you deserve to be loved.
I see you, foster teens. I see you, group home teens. I see you…and so does Jesus.
I have seen group homes come and go in my ministry and it is a joy to have them join our community at Central. Yes, their language is rough, yes, we have to break up fights, yes, they disrupt group time, yes, they are a handful. No, I wouldn’t have it any other way and I don’t think Jesus would have it any other way either. I don’t see these group home teenagers as problems, I see them as human beings who have been dealt a rough hand and are in need to be seen, by all of us.
James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
I hear so often, “oh you work with teenagers! Bless your heart, I couldn’t do that.” Yes, you could. You just choose not to and that’s okay. For me it comes easily, for others it doesn’t. Church, just because it doesn’t seem to be your thing, it makes Jesus’ words no less true when He says to look after the orphans and widows. It’s as if we say, “Nah, Jesus isn’t really my thing.” Are we striving to be a people that cares for the orphans and the needy in our community, but beyond that, engages with them? I want my ministry and I want the church to be a place where we are uncomfortable every weekend during services because we meet and talk to those who are different than us. I want my regular, church going teenagers to interact with my sweet and inspiring group home teenagers so they can learn from each other, because that is where we learn to live like Jesus.
People who are different than you are difficult and complicated, church. Relationships take perseverance. Instead of rushing off on a Sunday morning after service, would you just stick around and actually meet the community that you just sat with for 65 minutes? They will probably change your life, just like the incredible teens from the group homes continue to change mine.Click here for the photo credit on this post