So this is lovingly and respectfully dedicated to you and all the children’s and youth workers and volunteers who left it all out on the road this summer:
…to those of the sleepless nights and the unswerving hearts, who squelched through mud and fed an army while the winds howled and the tents got waterlogged. Your loving persistence saw young people surfing a wave of love they’d never known before.
…to those of the cool kit and the crazy imagination, who unleashed love onto the skate parks, bus shelters and tenement stairwells. Your availability and willingness to be unplanned and interrupted allowed young people to lay down their weapons of attack and defence, and just be.
…to those of the flair for acting and the knack for creating a craft out of loo roll and yoghurt pots. Your grace under pressure and willingness to look a fool saw many families find themselves at home in a church and with a God they never knew was for them.
…to those of the head for numbers and the car that pulled the caravan, who checked that every tent peg and consent form was solid and ensured that the sick kid got home before the whole camp was knee-deep in vomit. Your dedication to the team and the mission means others slept well at night.
…to those of the not-youth-work-full-time jobs and the full-on children’s ministry calling, who took annual leave to camp with teenagers or run kids’ clubs and squeezed youth and children’s trips onto the end of busy days. Your modelling of God-life in the workplace and your gift of your ‘time off’ to children and young people is a mighty tool in your discipleship of young lives.
…to those of the small numbers and resources who never let that stop them, who planned events for their three teens as if there were 300. Your vision is godly, and your children and young people know that they are seen through heaven’s eyes.
…to those of the much-needed break, who allowed others to feed them soul-food and gently slap them when they sent some emails. Your hunch that Jesus alone is the saviour and that your job is to surrender is life-bringing to everyone around you.
…to those of the high-vis jackets and the keys to the golf cart, who stacked chairs at midnight and put up with being hugged by smelly campers. Your compassion for the smooth running of the event ensured thousands stayed safe and explored life in world-changing ways.
…to those of the long journeys and the 24-hour encounters, who sought to bring a fresh word to each group and have lots to give their own families and communities. Your hidden wrestle over the allure of the platform and your fear that you’ve not got what it takes means your words pack a punch that sharpens vision and changes destinies.
…to those of the yummy recipes and the work-worn hands, who determined that on their watch and in their patch no kid should go hungry. Your beauty is a lingering shalom in communities starved of hope and help.
…to those of the thwarted plans and painful moments, who wanted to do so much but ended up silently imploding. Your ministry is richer and your calling is stronger than anything you fear has been taken from you.
So, friends, whatever your summer has involved and whatever your autumn holds…
"…take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high. Keep a tight grip on what you were taught, whether in personal conversation or by our letter. May Jesus himself and God our father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech."
2 Thessalonians 2:15-17 (The Message)