A Note from Lifeway Girls: It often seems like discipleship has to be formatted a very specific way in order to make a difference. If you don’t meet every week at the same time at the same place, studying chapters of Scripture each time in a certain way, it’s easy to question whether or not we are pointing our girls to Christ. Morgan shares her story today of how one college student simply invested in her right where she was and how it left a lasting impression on her relationship with Christ.
When I was growing up I always looked up to the older girls at my church. I looked forward to my parents small group every week because it was a chance to hang out with the older kids whose parents were also in the group. I wanted so badly to be in all the high school-aged friend groups even as an elementary schooler. Thinking back, there are obvious reasons why the high schoolers wouldn’t be my best friend the way I wanted them too. In middle school, I finally got what I wanted! Bethany, a college-aged girl who I grew up knowing re-entered my life and her consistency left a lasting impact on my relationship with God.
Every year when DNow rolled around, my friends and I got so excited thinking about what fun college student we’d have as a leader for the weekend. When we found out in 8th grade that Bethany was our leader, we were so excited! That first DNow was the beginning of many years where Bethany poured into me and my friends. The next two summers she was my leader at summer camp! Bethany was open with us about her life, and she talked to us the way she would talk to her friends. She went along with our matching homemade camp t-shirt ideas each year, and even our silly cheers we wanted to chant constantly as we walked around the campus.
Even better than our time at camp and during DNow weekends, Bethany made time for us at home. Although she was never in a formal discipleship role in my life teaching me from a specific study book over a period of time, I consider her someone who discipled me in middle school and early high school. During this time, she was teaching me out of the outpouring of what the Holy Spirit was teaching her through her own personal walk with God. She told me all the things a 9th grader needed to know about college. She kept me in the loop of her friends, her family, and her boyfriend (who’s now her husband!). Bethany taught me how to live out my relationship with God on a daily basis and modeled Christian living to me and my friends. Getting to see her marry Brent my senior year of high school was so special because we had heard all the stories about them meeting multiple times. We finally got to meet Brent on their wedding day!
Bethany’s consistency in my life during middle and high school showed me the importance of showing up. Even though Bethany was away at college during the school year, she always made time for my friends and I during her winter breaks and always came home to lead our group at DNow and at camp when she could.
In youth ministry, I’ve learned that you aren’t always able to stay with your students forever. You move, they move, life happens. What is important is that you show up when you are in the same place as your students. Bethany still had an impact on my life even though I didn’t see her every week at church. It’s been a while since we’ve talked, but I credit her with helping me grow as a Christian woman during my early years in youth group. She was patient with me and never made me feel like she was too cool to hear about all the 8th grade happenings going on in my world.
Thank you Bethany for pouring into me by reflecting Jesus in your daily life and including me in it despite our age difference! I’m forever grateful for you.
Morgan Wood just moved to Richmond, Virginia, and is currently in her first year of graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University working toward her Master’s in Social Work. She serves in the recreation ministry at her church. During the summers she serves as an Assistant Director for FUGE Camps. Morgan enjoys spending time with her family, baking pies, and exploring Richmond.