Monday, February 28, 2011

"Oh Noooo..."

In most every episode of the classic TV sitcom Friends there is a moment when Phoebe realizes that she has misunderstood something or done something terribly wrong.  As you watch the look of realization come over her face, you always know the words that are going to follow:  "Oh noooo..."

When the students of Wesley Memorial UMC loaded our chartered bus in January of 2002 to head to West Virginia for our Ski Camp, I already knew it was going to be an emotional rollercoaster.  For Ryan & Ashley Sweat (the children of our departing pastor) this would be their "last stand" with the group.  Several youth who otherwise might not have signed up for the trip tagged along just because of that fact.  I had not been around this group long enough to know that there were some deeply seeded issues that separated many of the youth.  I was about to learn a great deal.

You may recall from a previous post that the previous youth pastor had spent a great amount of time and effort seeking to prevent the males and females of the group from "co-mingling."  They had spent months studying the Joshua Harris (don't get me started) book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye.  While I have no doubt of the sincerity of the effort, the results had been an abject failure.  There had been so much "underground" dating in this group that there were still many hard feelings.  Even the bus ride up had a few tense moments.  Once we arrived, we checked into our motel and began to settle in.  It only took a couple of hours before the sniping started.  Two of the girls knocked on the door to my room and informed me that two of our students were having sex in one of the rooms.  I immediately ran to the room and discovered a group of about 15 youth sitting, chatting and watching TV.  One of the girls was giving one of the guys a back rub.  This was the "sex."  It turned out that one of the girls who reported the event to me had a long-standing crush on the guy and didn't like the girl.  It was the first of many eye-opening discoveries about the inter-personal relationships I was dealing with.

This was a group of haves and have nots.  Some of the youth were literally outcasts, with no real friends in the group.  Cliques were strong and plentiful.  Feelings were easily hurt.  Attitudes needed some serious adjustments.  A couple of these students had anger issues much more serious than any I had dealt with before.  It was going to take a great deal of effort to overcome the history some of them shared.  Before I could get them to trust each other I was going to have get them to trust me.  As often happens, things would get worse before they got better.  And as happens just as often, I was in the middle of it all- for better and for worse.  Oh noooo...   (Continued on Wednesday)

Because of Jesus,

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