Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Youth Ministry

I put Parker down for his daily nap, sat down at my computer to do my twice daily BLOG readings. Did I say twice, well multiply that by some number. I went to one of my favorite BLOGs to read and read what this wonderful man wrote about Youth Ministry. I cried. I then went to the comments. Read all of those...weeding out ones about bird fajitas. I cried. I have to say my heart hurts. Not hurts...steams. I still am not sure that is a great word. You see, my experience with youth ministry hasn't been great, and that is an understatement. So many times in the church, Satan finds a weak person to use to strangle out spirit of the believers. Satan knows how to pick them. He finds someone who can hide behind a title, use his position to slither into families and rip them apart. That was my family. Our Church of Christ youth minister used his position to sexually molest many young boys in my church. (I mention the denomination because nothing like that happens outside of the Catholic church, right?) . One of those boys being my brother. It is sickening what Satan uses to break families and church families. He know just what to do. He strikes at the innocent.

We were attending a small church in a small town outside of Paris. Things were great, we were young...I think I was about 6 when we received a summer intern for a youth minister position from ACU. I don't even think we had a real youth minister before him. He came in, won us all over. I remember having him over to swim with us and cooking out dinner. I have some very vivid memories. He was an outdoor kind of person, and my family really wasn't the outdoor type, although that was how my dad was raised. He loved to take the boys from the youth group on camping trips, fishing, and hunting. Our intern had to go back to college and finish his degree. I remember our family making him cookies to send off in a care package. When he graduated, our church hired him full time. Years went by. We moved to Paris, but the relationship between my brother and the YM was very strong. There were still camping trips, and hunting (he even bought my brother a gun to keep at his house). Every summer, our Paris youth minister still had activities with the other YM from the small town, they still went to the same Christian camp together so all the boys could be together.
I will never, never forget the night when I was in high school sitting on the bed talking on the phone when I 'had a beep.' I clicked over. It was my brother. He asked if our current youth minister was at our home, and I said yes, he was in the living room talking to mom and dad and I had been sent to my room and instructed not to come out. He asked if I could hear anything. Well, I could hear my mom crying. My brother assured me everything was going to be okay and that he loved me (he didn't say that often or should I say never). We got off and I unplugged the phone so that I could put my ear against the outlet which let into the living room (I was a nosy one) where the adults were sitting. I could put everything together. For the past 10 years, my brother had been sexually molested by our old youth minister. I quickly moved my ear...I had heard enough. To make this long story a little short, we went to court. The YM plead guilty, but don't think that made things easier or shorter. There were also 6-7 other boys in the youth group that were molested, but did not press charges. I would love to tell you that my brother has over come this with flying colors and praises GOD and loves Him. Not true. My brother has had the hardest life. My parents separated a year or so after court, then divorced, my sister started using drugs (since rehabbed and clean), my brother to marry, only to divorce. My brother and sister still search for happiness in all the wrong places, church didn't bring them much hope and love and safety. Not everyone has had a wonderful youth minister who took them to wonderful spiritual places. I see the hurt in my brother, the innocence that was stolen from him, the inability to trust, the distance he has to anyone who cares for him. All because my brother trusted a man who represented god and hid behind his position and his wife to work as a slave of the devil. Some day I know God will use my brother to talk to Youth Ministers from all around the country or use what has happened to grow. But we are far from it now.
I know that God has a plan for him.

In the BLOG I mentioned earlier, he asked for prayers for youth ministers. I want to add prayers for protection for our youth. They look to their youth ministers for such spiritual guidance, and led the wrong way....well.
I am not sure how I will handle Parker in a youth group. I will pray for his safety, and his openness to communicate with us. I will pray for my heart to allow a YM to be involved in his life.

I hope all of this came out okay. I cried the entire way through it and have tried to reread it to edit...it is just hard. So many more details...so many more details that it could be a book. I ask for prayer for my family who still seek to find God in their lives due to the destruction.


jenny biz said...

My prayers will continue for your siblings. I am so sorry that you and your family had to experience something so "hell on earth"ish. I know God uses you everytime you are in contact with your brother and sister to be a light to them. Thanks for your openess in sharing your heart and we all should be in prayer to battle for our children even through places, times and relationships that we think should be "safe". Love ya', Paige

STP, an IronMan said...

I know this was so tough for you to write, but i am immensely proud of you for doing it. You are an amazing woman and i am just so blessed to call you my wife. I love you and will stand beside you forever, through everything!

Beverly Ross said...

Paige, thank you for sharing your heart and your concerns. I, too, am so sorry for the pain this brought to you and yours. I can't even imagine. I will join you in praying for healing. I also pray that the evil one will not hurt this next generation of children in the name of ministry. I know God saw the whole, horrible, events and they have grieved His Spirit. Hang in there, girlfriend! You are a light!

MDM said...

Wow. You are so strong and brave to tell this horrific story. Things like this need to be told. I too am scared for my eldest to enter the youth program at church. We have a brand new Y.M. I think I consider all working with youth guilty until proven innocent. I hate that. I too have watched my brother spiral down-ward for different reasons. He lives in heaven now and is rid of his pain. I will pray for you and your family. Thanks for sharing.