A Life Changed Forever

Sometimes in youth ministry it can be hard to see any fruits of your labor. Sometimes you just don’t know if you’re getting through to your students, or if they are “getting” it or not.

Well, for anyone who has ever felt that way, let me encourage you with this story. This young lady in our youth group at Northwest is 16 years old. I will summarize what her life was like before coming to SWITCH, and then let her take it from there:

Shakari stayed with her mom before coming to SWITCH. Her life was filled with the wrong people: an unhealthy relationship with a 20 year old man (she was 13 at the time.) Friends that encouraged drinking, smoking etc. Since her mom was never around she went to stay with her dad. (This is where we’ll pick up the story in her words)

My dad finally let me and my sisters start to go to SWITCH on Wednesday nights. At first I just went to hang out with my friends and to get out of the house. After a while I started to cut myself because I started to feel all this pain, hurt, the feeling of being alone, and not loved and wanted. Then I would start to have thoughts of suicide and how I just didn’t care anymore. And that nobody would even care that if I was gone so what was the point of staying. It started to be too much to handle so I started talking to my youth leader about these things. And I remember her telling me that she would care if I was gone so would my small group leader and everybody that loved me. That I was not alone I was worth so much more than that. After I talked to her I had felt a little better getting that off my chest and so I tried to stop cutting but it only lasted for about 3-4 weeks. I had just felt so overwhelmed again and that this world and everyone and everything in it hated me. And I remember telling my leader about how I started cutting again and she asked why I had started up again. I told her about being overwhelmed and so tired and alone. She was like “Shakari, God is Always with you, and you might not know it at all times but he is. And that you really need to stop hiding behind yourself because God has put you on this earth for a reason and to be a leader to others and you need to stand up to that.”

I remember one Wednesday night at church during worship I just couldn’t handle everything and I just prayed to God that he comes into my heart. To help me in my times of weakness and to overcome this addiction I had with cutting myself. It felt good to know that the world didn’t hold my life anymore and that God did. After that I started going to church for the right reason. It felt really good to know that I was not alone. It felt great to worship him and try to learn something new from the messages. Of all the people, places, and churches that I have met or been to I have never felt that I actually belonged like I do at SWITCH. I started coming every Wednesday. I can’t imagine my life without SWITCH. I stopped cutting and it has been three months. I know I can hang on and go longer because my leaders and youth pastors are the best and I know I can call them or talk to them whenever I feel tempted. Most of the time when I do feel weak I pray to God and ask him to help me and to give me strength.

Through all things I believe that God put me with my dad because he knew SWITCH was exactly what I needed in my life. I pray to God every night that he does not take LifeChurch away from me because it is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I would not know who Jesus is and how much he loves me. I am working on a better and closer relationship with God and I know that I don’t have to build that relationship with God alone. Something that I learned recently is that I was so busy being mad at hating the world and myself that I didn’t see I was causing myself more hurt than anyone else. I know that I have made mistakes but it is okay because I am still loved and wanted and precious in his sight. And of all things I am FORGIVEN.

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