Just as a heads up…this is gonna be kind of a long post. But if you’re okay with that, enjoy!
Anyone that knows me (or has ever even come into brief contact with me) knows that I LOVE children! Which would make sense since I’m in Pediatrics (duh…lol). But specifically, I absolutely love working with teenagers. And even though people think that I’m crazy for doing so, once I complete my 3 years of Pediatric residency training (which…side note: Am I SERIOUSLY about to begin my 3rd and final year?!? Gaaaahhhh!!! lol), I plan to complete a 3 year Adolescent Medicine fellowship training program (by God’s grace) and dedicate my career to promoting and improving the wellbeing of adolescents.
This past Sabbath, I attended my local church specifically at the request of one of the young people there. He was getting baptized that day and invited me to be there and of course I couldn’t miss it for the world! The baptismal ceremony was absolutely beautiful! As he said his baptismal vows, emotions overtook him and he started to weep (yes…weep). And I had to look away because, I was NOT about to go out like that! I had to keep my THUG intact! Not even….there is no thug within me…at all…
But when he got into the baptismal pool, and his mom and younger sister began singing Laura Story’s “Blessings”, and he started to cry once again, I COMPLETELY lost it! Forget the full beat face and thank God for waterproof mascara! The tears just started falling and the nose started running…it was a beautiful mess lol.
I remember when I first met him, it was shortly after I’d moved to the Allentown area for residency. He had displayed his talents during a Youth Day program at church by painting a beautiful depiction of Jesus wearing His crown of thorns live on stage during a musical performance. He did an absolutely amazing job, and I told him so after the service. Over the past 2 years or so since I’ve been in the area, I’ve gotten to learn more about him, and his story is absolutely amazing and very inspirational. He has such a genuine heart and loves his mom and sister so so much! So being able to be a part of this special moment in his life was SUCH a blessing and overwhelmed my spirit completely.
For quite a long time (for almost 5 or 6 years), I have felt this urgent call and compassionate desire to minister to youth. When I was back in the DMV, I was able to do that through my home church: being a leader in the Adventist Youth Society, helping to direct the youth choir there as well (S/O to MVP!), and just being there for my own sisters and brother when they needed me. When I moved to PA, I felt a little lost as to where I could serve the youth in my local community and for quite some time I felt very sad because I couldn’t find anywhere that I fit. But how many of you know that God doesn’t need you to be a part of a formal ministry in order for you to be used by Him in just the way that He needs to use you? Come on somebody! (sorry if I sound preachy….I’m writing this fresh on the heels of listening to a powerful sermon that blessed my everlasting life! But I digress…). I began to realize that very thing! God was using me to minister to the needs of the young people around me: at church, work, randomly. And I hadn’t even really noticed it.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about working with the adolescent population, it’s that social interaction and acceptance is a MAJOR priority. This is a huge part of the reason that social media is such a big deal….and why youth often get involved in things that can be detrimental to their wellbeing. They just want to feel accepted…appreciated….LOVED. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what we’d all like as well? So I really just started to open up my ears, heart, and home to these young people. Listening to them when no one else really would. Empathizing with their struggles when no one else seemed like they were able (or willing) to relate. Allowing them to spend time with me in the comfort of my home to just eat, sing, play games when they just wanted to escape from life for a moment and have some fun.
I did what I could, where I was, with what I had. And God took that and made it enough. And in the midst of me ministering to them, I was blessed as well. Boy have I been BLESSED!
So moving forward, I definitely hope and pray that this passion never fades. I genuinely feel called to minister to and serve this specific population, and I pray that God continues to guide my path, opens the appropriate doors (ESPECIALLY as I venture into the fellowship application process in the next 2-3 months. Pray church!), and gives me the strength to fulfill this mission WELL.
And for those of you out there that are pursuing your passion as well, and may even have a similar passion for youth, don’t give up! Submit it all to God; He will guide and strengthen you. Like He says in Jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Love and God Bless,