When I was a freshman in high school, my friend Jess invited me to church. Honestly, I didn’t really want to go, but I figured at that point I had nothing to lose. So I said I would visit her youth group the following week. Over that weekend, a close family friend my age passed away. It was extremely sudden and unexpected, and it shook up my life drastically. Even though I didn’t know it at the time, that invitation to church was something I was going to cling to.
That first Wednesday I went, I experienced church in a way like never before. My friends from school were there. And the volunteers I met felt like real people, not people putting on an act to look like they were perfect. That’s when I met my youth pastor. At the time, we were not that close but she still reached out and tried to make church a home for me. Then COVID-19 shut down the world.
My life and the lives of all the people around me changed. The only thing that stayed constant was church, even though it went from in-person gathering to Instagram live. Every Wednesday, I would get on Instagram and hear something about God. It was so nice to have something that felt constant in life. When school started back, so did church, but it wasn’t the same. We went from a larger youth group to a group of 8-10 people sitting in lawn chairs behind our church, playing games and making s’mores in a fire pit. During that time, I had a few friends at church. They were the people who made the difference. They kept me coming back.
My life and the lives of all the people around me changed. The only thing that stayed constant was church…Lydia Mitchell
Then one day, my youth pastor asked me if I wanted to go to lunch. I was honestly skeptical at first, but I went and had a really good time getting to know her as a person and a leader. She kept inviting me to things, like playing frisbee on a Monday night or getting dinner with the teens on a Friday. Slowly we started to get closer. By the summer between my sophomore year and junior year, we were talking and getting together almost every day. For the first time, I felt like somebody was investing in my life for a reason. That’s when I experienced a call to ministry.
For the first time, I felt like somebody was investing in my life for a reason. That’s when I experienced a call to ministry.Lydia Mitchell
Before I joined the church and its fellowship, I had felt like I was living my life in slow motion with no direction. I learned over my high school years that God doesn’t need you to be anything but yourself to use you and that He will meet you right where you are. In my life, it wasn’t a crazy situation that got me to experience Jesus but instead the people that God sent to me to pull me out of the darkness. After that, I didn’t feel like I had to keep living a superficial life; instead, I was excited to be authentic and excited about my faith! Going into my junior year when the world started to go back to normal, I felt like such a different person. The church helped change me from somebody who was judgy and hateful into somebody who was excited to talk about Jesus and what He had done for me. I’m in my senior year now, and even though my walk with Christ has not been easy, I’m so glad that the church has shaped my life to be for Jesus and to share His love with everyone.