Monday, May 9, 2011

Hall of Fame: Justin Overstreet

Justin @ Painter's Ice Cream in N. Myrtle Beach
When I arrived at Wesley Memorial UMC-Tampa in October of 2001 one of the most memorable characters I was introduced to was a middle school kid named Justin Overstreet.  I discovered quickly that he was heavily into music and sports.  In fact, he often wore basketball jerseys and lots of gold chains, and even came with own rapper name- ICE.   To be honest, I was prepared to not like him.  I expected him to be a little obnoxious and difficult to get along with, both for me and the other students. I could not have been more mistaken.

Justin was everyone's friend.  Over the course of my 4 years with him I watched as he made friends with the older guys, the younger girls and everyone in-between.  He sang with the youth praise team and helped lead worship for the smaller kids at Promiseland every Sunday morning.  He went on our mission trips to Spartanburg and Chicago, both trips to New York and to Myrtle Beach, the Rock The House Retreat, our leadership training events and pretty much every thing else we did.  ICE was the ultimate leader, always encouraging others to attend Graceland and making people feel right at home once they arrived.  He held things together in so many ways- one of those rare teenagers I could ALWAYS count on.  

Justin & a very young Will Jones- playing as usual!
 But all of that youth group stuff does not scratch the surface of what made Justin a special person in the life of myself and my family.  His love and support for his little sister, who was very sick the entire time we knew her, was amazing to watch. He gave up a lot so that she could get the care she needed, and he never complained about a thing.  He also was an incredible son, helping his Mom and Dad out in some amazing ways.  There were a number of occasions when he stayed at our house while his family travelled to Duke Medical Center.  He and Will became good buddies, even though their ages were years apart.  Justin never cared; he just played with our son and included him in most everything.  Justin was a part of our family.

Today, Justin is volunteering with the student ministry as WMUMC and is very active in Crosswinds, a college ministry at USF.  I have no doubt that Jesus is using him to make a difference in the lives of many. We see him from time to time at his job at our local mall.  Like many of the youth from that era we fell out of touch (because I let them down), and I don't know what the future holds for our relationship.  But I do know this- give me a dozen kids just like Ice to work with and we could change the world.  It is with no hesitation that I induct him into my Youth Group Hall of Fame.  Blessings to you, Justin.  I promise your HOF bust will be wearing a Cincinnati Reds jersey and hat...

Because of Jesus,

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