Rachel Dotzler – Student Pastor, Mesa campus
Almost 6 years ago I was introduced to the class of 2016 on the Mesa campus. I now sit here on my stool, at my high standing, nicely welded desk that my husband made for me, staring at a blank page of paper unable to comprehend the words I want to share with you. And now my eyes begin to well up because I know what I want to write will not be easy, but it is necessary due to the incredible human beings I want you to know about.
Almost 6 years ago I was introduced to the class of 2016 on the Mesa campus…and they changed my life. In just over a month I have to say goodbye to the seniors that I once knew as 7th graders. In just over a month I will attend graduations and graduation parties celebrating the accomplishments these 17 and 18 year olds have made. In just over a month I will be filled with the happiest of emotions and the saddest of emotions. In just over a month, the seniors I have grown to love more and more each day will leave Central Student Ministries and will enter into a new season in life.
I need to let you in on a secret. We often hear of student’s lives being changed because of God speaking through a pastor in their life or a message that was delivered by a pastor that moved students to accept Jesus into their life. What I need you all to know is that the class of 2016 did that very thing for me. Their passion, their love, their kindness, their eagerness, and their hearts for Jesus has literally driven me to tears on my knees in awe of how awesome our God is. In awe because when teenagers get it, when they get this whole God thing, this whole church thing, there is no. stopping. them. They cannot be stopped! Satan literally has nothing on them because the one who loves them most in this world has captured their hearts and will never let go! I have seen them fall, I have seen them make mistakes, and yet they have dusted off their knees and they have kept going because they know they cannot lose when Jesus is living and moving inside their hearts.
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. – 1 Timothy 4:12
One of the most incredible things I have seen so far in my lifetime is when students fall in love with Jesus. Class of 2016 you may not think you have made much of a difference, but I am here to tell you otherwise. You have made me fall in love with Jesus so much more. You have moved the generations below you to pursue their faith in God. You have set examples of what it means to be a follower of Jesus and not a fan. You have served your community more than most adults will ever serve in their lifetime. You have drawn me closer to God in every way and for that I cannot thank you enough. When days are hard and long, all it takes is a picture of you all and all I see is Jesus and I am reminded of why God has me on this journey. To know you all has been a true honor and I am humbled by everything that you are.
Church – You walk among some of the most incredible human beings and they range from 12-18 years old. It’s important you know who they are because they will change…everything. The church does not change teenagers, teenagers change the church. God is on the move and I invite you all to lean in and pay attention to the people God has placed in your life because He may use them to change your life instead of the other way around.
Class of 2016 – Thank you. The church is praying for you. I am praying for you. And Jesus is cheering for you. Don’t ever stop pursuing your Father.
My God and Good Father – Thank you for placing these teenagers into my life and heart. Guide them and move through them so that they change this world for Your glory and Your Kingdom alone. All to Him. Amen.