Posted by Tom French |

Fallout

Last weekend was one of the most intense I've had in a while.

On Friday night while I was out to dinner with the youth leaders Matt told us that a few hours before a local teenager had been killed when he was hit by a car riding to youth group. The youth group, he said, was the one whose camp I spoke on in the holidays a few weeks ago. But there was nothing much confirmed, everything was just rumours. It was pretty horrible news. We stopped and prayed for the family while in the restaurant. There wasn't much else to do. I was pretty worried about who it might have been, was it someone who I was on camp with, one of the boys I connected with? How would the youth group cope? And on top of that there was just this knowledge that out there his parents, whoever they were, would be having the worst night of their lives. It's so sad.

I didn't sleep well that night. I dreamt about death and the people I know.

On Saturday we had the Engagement Engagement and it was good. Our car broke down so I got there late. Through out the day I would often be reminded that someone I knew might be dead and I didn't know who it was.

I went out to dinner that night and got a call from Steve, my boss, and he asked me if I was aware of what had happened. I told him I knew a little but not much. He filled me in, told me who the boy was, where he was from, what schools he had gone too. He was in year 7 and didn't go to the youth group I spoke at. I didn't know the boy. It was a relief, but I felt guilty for it. Not knowing him personally didn't mean that he wasn't valuable and it wasn't just as terrible.

I was told a few extras would be coming to church with some of the girls who are in my youth group who were in his class.

I didn't sleep well that night either. I dreamt about the morning at church. I was feeling very out of my depth.

Dad gave me a lift to church because the car wasn't working.

At church, about half an hour before the service a family arrived who had a girl in the boy's class. They told me that there was a rumour going around the community that our church was running a memorial service. We needed to prepare just in case.

I met with a councilor who goes to my church before the service. She had been assigned to me so she could help me figure out how to best help anyone who was going to turn up. As we were talking I watched through the windows as out the front as lots of year 7 people and their parents arrived at church. This wasn't going to be a normal service.

By the time the service started we had about 70 extra people in our church. Steve started the service where talking about death, praying and reading from the Bible. I thought he did very well, Steve was in his element. This was then followed by communion. It was comforting for some reason. It went on for ages. We ran out of bread there were so many people.

When it was time for the Sunday School to go out I took my group. I had 19 extra people, all of them had known the boy who died. I was pretty scared. I had never had to do anything like this before. When you go into Youth Ministry you know that one day death will touch your ministry and now it had come to mine, but you never get to a stage where you're ready for it.

We sat down and I prayed before handing over to the councilor. She ran a debriefing session with the young people. She did very well. I was very glad she was there. When she had finished I talked about how God feels about death. I told the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, of the anger and sadness Jesus had when his friend died, but also the power that Jesus has over death. God hates death but he is not impotent in the face of death as we are, he will one day destroy it, we can trust that he holds all things in his hands, even the lives of those we have lost.

I'm not sure what the people who heard it thought. I prayed for them and I hope it was of some comfort.

During Church the parents went out for their own debrief session. After the service there was lots of ministry going on, lots of people being comforted and prayed for. It was wonderful to see our church had pulled together to help those who were grieving. All the young people hung out together after church. As the youth minister I felt like I should go and talk to them, but it was kinda strange because they all knew each other and I felt like the outsider. Generally they would talk to me for a bit then wander off. I got to talk to one or to for more than just a polite amount of time, but generally they were pretty happy to look after themselves, and I can understand that.

In the afternoon we had youth group. I do like playing soccer. During dinner we were in the playground at church and I was standing on a little kiddy swing talking to one of the girls. I was swinging on it while standing up. As I got higher and higher the girl told me that I was going to hurt myself, which I politely disagreed with. But sure enough I got hurt. I got to this point where I was so high that there wasn't enough momentum to keep me going against gravity's wishes. I stopped but the swing didn't, I fell to the ground onto me face. As I was coming down the swing came around and whacked me in the nose. It was rather painful.

I rolled over onto my back at which point someone noticed that my nose was bleeding. I lay on the ground thinking "It's the first injury of the year in the youth ministry and it's the youth minister." I felt at least that's what we call incarnational ministry.

The young people came and led me away to get first aid (tissues and lots of different people giving different instructions about where to put my nose) while the leaders filled the power vacuum and ran dinner while I sat on the sidelines trying not to bleed on things.

After dinner when I had cleaned myself up a bit I gathered the youth group together so we could pray for those people who had known the boy who died. It was another hard time. I'd found the whole day rather emotional, and this was no different. It was hard not to get choked up, but I pushed through. All the young people gathered around and prayed for those who were grieving and it was beautiful to see.

When I finished praying I realised that I had started bleeding again. I bled till halfway through Church.

We had a young adults do after church. I like young adults stuff but I had a head ache and was starting to feel sick. I didn't have a car so Tanya gave me a lift home. She's good value that Tanya.

When I was home and Tanya had gone (she came inside for a tour of the house) I came into my room to blog, but I couldn't concentrate. My head was feeling horrid and I wanted to vomit. I couldn't think straight. I think everything had finally caught up with me, the adrenaline kicked out.

I slept very well that night.

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