Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Youth Ministry Hero. . . .

Ever get asked about who your youth ministry hero is? I've been asked, and I've asked. When asked, I've had a standard answer since the day I graduated from high school. It's not one hero, but three. They happen to be the three youth workers who invested in my life during high school. I know God used each of them to lead me to the point where I'm at today, vocationally and spiritually.

First there was Phil Douglass, a Tennessee boy who as a seminary student came to the Philly suburbs every weekend to lead a rambunctious group of teenagers at Supplee Presbyterian Church. I was in ninth grade. I quickly decided I wanted to spend time with Phil and to be like Phil. I also liked Phil's Firebird! Today, Phil is on the faculty at Covenant Theological Seminary, influencing young people like he did forty years ago.

Then there was Mike Barbera, another seminary student who spent loads of time with me during my sophomore year. Mike is now pastoring at Church of The Good Shepherd in New Orleans. I love Mike as I loved Phil. Oh, did I mention that Mike drove a dark green Kahrmann Ghia convertible?

Finally, there was Chuck Wiggins, another Philly boy who was with us for two years! Same thing . . . loved being with this guy who loved being with me. Chuck brought along an extra benefit to our youth group. . . his wife Kathy. Together, they made a great team. Both are now pastoring in Florida. And Chuck drove a VW Beetle. . . I guess you have to when you have a wife!

There they are. . . my three youth ministry heroes. They loved Jesus and they loved me. In recent years, I've added a fourth. I blogged about her a couple of weeks ago. She loves Jesus, she loves kids, and she's 81-years-old! Today, I want to share with you why she's my youth ministry hero. I don't have to write anything. You'll know why she's my hero when you watch the video of the little surprise Tic Long threw on her in Atlanta. Thanks Verna. . . for being a hero to us all!

4 comments:

Pastor Jeff said...

Chuck and Kathy Wiggins! They are my heroes too, and were instrumental in my movement from religion to discipleship, and my decision to pursue pastoral ministry. Chuck wasn't your stereotypical high-energy youth leader. He just gently, persistently, and authentically loved us with the love of Jesus. And Kathy was an excellent model of humble and uncompromising Christian faith. Yes, Virginia, youth ministry can have a life-long impact when done with integrity and love.

Ruthanne said...

I know Phil's daughter and he is indeed a wonderful man.

Vitamin Z said...

I had "Philly D" (what I like to call him) for class at Covenant. They don't get much better than him. Very very helpful.

z

Allen Jackson said...

Next time you come this way, I will broker a dinner with Mike...