Out of My Comfort Zone
I arrived at East Mountain knowing in my heart that I wanted to work with youth, but I did not yet know where, how, when, or, of course, the who. The East Mountain team gave me time to process these questions, and I ended up making the decision to take on the youth in Franschhoek at Trinity Church. For me this was very uncomfortable because, for the first time, I was not working with youth that are in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa (my hometown), and I was totally out of my comfort zone.
I did not know where to start teaching, if they would accept me as their youth leader, or if we would even understand each other. But in all of the unknown God already had a plan.
My kids are ages 14-19, and the majority of them come from one family. They come from church-going families, and like most teens, they think they know it all, which is always a great challenge.
As I first entered their world I could feel the gap between us, and I knew it was going to take time and hard work to close that gap. Indeed, months went by before anything relational started, and in this time I felt nothing was happening and began wondering what I should do. My desire was to get to know them; I wanted to know their struggles and to speak into their lives by teaching God’s Word. In the midst of these questions, God confronted me about His story in my own life. He wanted me to start opening up to them about my personal story, where I come from, my struggles, and how God has been faithful through it all.
This created an experience on completely different level. It has been amazing to see how God used His story in my life to create a safe place for them to start opening up to tell their own stories.
In April, one of the most exciting things happened. Manfred, the only boy in the youth, gave his heart to the Lord. It has brought joy to my heart knowing that he is hungry for God’s word and wants a relationship with God.
In our culture there is a lot of negativity, and it does not give the kids much hope for life. I have learned this year that kids always look for someone they can relate to, feel safe to talk with, and who can encourage them to be the image of God in their community and their households. They need a church community that can grab their attention and focus them on God through personal relationship and stories.
The kids have also taught me a lot through their stories this year and through their questions and opinions. It has always been an adventure being around them. They have really grown in my heart, every single one of them, everyone with their own different, unique personalities and stories.
By: Natasha, One-Year Resident Intern at East Mountain