Sifting through Joplin…and teenagers

(This post was written one year ago today.)

Recently, I took my students to Joplin, MO, to assist with the tornado-ravaged residents there.  The destruction was horrific and indescribable.  We spent the week perched atop what used to be an art teacher’s home – now merely a pile of rubble, literally.

We were instructed to find a spot on top of the seven foot pile of debris and start sifting through what was wreckage to us.  We were to rifle through a five foot radius, clearing until we reached grass.  That was no small task.

What was the purpose?  The art teacher wanted to recover any scraps of old artwork, supplies, or media that could be used in a future art project memorializing the city’s disaster.

So we literally siphoned through this man’s home – sticks, bricks, mortar, shingles, drywall and all – looking for slivers of porcelain, broken marbles, anything usable for his art project.  To us, it was all rubble.  To him, priceless.

During the week I realized just how much that is a picture of youth ministry.  We sit atop what seems like a pile of rubble (the lives of our students).  Sometimes what we’d like to do is just raze it – clear it – move it into a dump truck and start over.  It’s so much easier to just explain it to them, demand they get it, and move on.

But what our kids need is someone who will do the tedious work of sifting through the refuse and remains of their ransacked lives –pointing out the slivers of hope, beauty, and potential that God sees in them.

Your students – all of them – are priceless works of art waiting to happen….are you sifting through to find beauty among the ashes?  God has placed it there –invaluable artwork waiting to happen…..can you help them find those pieces?


Author: Darren Sutton

I've been in student ministry nearly 30 years…which generally just confirms how much I still don't know. Some days I'm the pizza-eating, over-responding, teaching-on-the-fly, desperate-for-volunteers, frustrated-with-co-workers youth leader that we all are. And sometimes…I knock it out of the park. I'm everywhere on social media that you are!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s