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When Stats become FACES

Neely McQueen —  February 14, 2013 — 2 Comments

Here’s what the Statistics tell us:

1 in 4 Girls will be sexually assaulted (These are the reported incidents, the stats wound be higher if all the incidents were reported)

1 in 3 Girls have been in a relationships where they were worried about their safety

Suicide is the third leading cause of death in teens. Girls are more likely to attempt suicide.

1 in 4 Girls struggle with an eating disorder

The statistics alone are overwhelming but what happens when these stats become actual people in your life and ministry.

Over the course of the month in our ministry we have talked a lot about scars (Sunday Morning series) and took our students away on a winter retreat. Both of these things have created space and time for conversations with students about the pain in their lives.

These stats become names and faces in my life.

Here’s the truth, these stats aren’t just happening at my church or in my youth ministry.

These statistics are everywhere…which means these names and these faces are at your church or in your youth ministry. Based on these stats, if you have 4 girls in your ministry…you have pain and suffering.

Here’s what I have noticed over the years about these truths:

1. We’re afraid. I am afraid. These stories are hard to hear and there is no easy game plan. It’s so much easier if these girls come to us AFTER they have figured their stuff out, right? We love a victory story. The battle is the hard, scary and messy part. Most of these girls live a long part of their lives in the BATTLE. We must be willing to walk in their battle and fight on their behalf even when they seem to give up. We are afraid…and maybe admitting it is the best place we can start.

2. We’re not prepared. Most of us aren’t therapist or counselors. And while, there may be a few of us who can be counted in the statistics above and know the road of healing. A majority of us are not prepared on our own to handle these battles. It’s okay…I am not down on that reality as long as we are willing to admit it and equip ourselves and parents with resources. Are you reading books on issues that impact the girls in your ministry? Do you know counselors or therapists in your area that work specifically with teen girls? In ourselves, we are not prepared but we can take the right steps to be prepared to help these girls in our ministries.

3. They are drawn to Jesus. Girls who have experienced pain and abuse are drawn to Jesus and all that he offers us. This is good news. It becomes are job to create a safe place for them. When one hurting girl gets help in your ministry…more will come…the word will get out. The Gospel is powerful news to a broken and beaten down girl.

Years ago as I was sitting with a girl, she was in tears and I was trying my best to comfort her…As I rubbed her back I whispered over her, “it will be okay.” She looked at me and said, “what if it isn’t…what if it never is?” That was my wake call. If I am really serious about seeing healing and about ministering to the whole girl…I need to be willing to walk with those in pain and I need to prepare myself with real resources for these real issues. I’ll admit ministry has gotten harder and messier…but it has been so beautiful to watch these girls meet Jesus. It has even been so beautiful to watch these girls STRUGGLE to healing.

Today as I pray for the hurting girls in my life…I am praying that our churches are safe places for any and all wounded girls.

What have learned about working with hurting girls?

Neely McQueen

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2 responses to When Stats become FACES

  1. I love your heart Neely. I love that you keep pushing the boundaries of ministry into what hasn’t been considered “safe” territory for so long. Keep pushing Neely. :)

  2. Neely–great reminder
    Each time in our ministry when we address a series on Forgiveness, Boundaries, Pain, Gospel Transformation, Relationships, etc. There is now an automatic response to myself and our team of “we’re going to have some rough conversations ahead of us”.
    After doing youth ministry for 13 years I still have the feeling of “am I prepared for what’s next” after a series or conversation with a student. The hard part Is when I was younger I was a statistic and didn’t say anything till college.
    Great reminder and thanks for being another voice who doesn’t let other youth workers forget this reality in our world

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