The following is an excerpt from our Winter 2016 magazine. To view the whole magazine, click here

I will never forget my first year of full-time youth ministry. It started in 1996, 20 years ago, with Youth For Christ! There were many first time experiences like leading a student through the plan of salvation and a summer youth group trip to Colorado with two students released to me from the local juvenile detention center. I look back on these years and have so many great memories and emotions, and 2015 was no exception.

This past summer, while visiting many of Youth Unlimited’s summer experiences, I found myself at a first time Serve site in Brighton, ON and experienced sites like Grand Rapids, MI and Port Perry, ON. I also found myself at the Special Needs site in Ottawa, ON and in Chicago, IL at the Live It convention. As I traveled, I experienced students worshipping, praying, serving, playing and reading scripture. I had a front row seat to the power of the Holy Spirit transforming student’s lives…what a blessing! But I must be honest; he was also working and transforming me.

If you have been in ministry in a paid or volunteer capacity, you, like me, can testify to the “highs” and “lows” of our calling. There are those mountaintop moments when we see that one special student make a decision that will forever positively change their life or when we get a turnout of students we never could have dreamed! However, there are also the results that are just the opposite, which can drive us into the valleys. I have certainly had many of both over the past 20 years! Through each of them, God continues to teach me life and ministry lessons. This past summer he reminded me that he is the one that changes student’s lives, not me or even Youth Unlimited experiences. The battle is his and, therefore, I need to give it back to him by putting the students and this ministry at the feet of my Lord through prayer!

As we step into 2016, let’s be sure to make Christ the center of our life and ministry. May it start with each of us personally and intentionally spending time at his feet in prayer and reading his Word. May it overflow from there into every aspect of our ministry.

God is good and worthy of praise! As you see his blessings, be sure to thank him. I would love it if you would also share it with the Youth Unlimited staff and I. You can do that by emailing me at jeff@youthunlimited.org.

Partners in ministering to students,

Jeff