My guess is that your head is where mine is today. I feel a deep sadness from stories of youth ministry losses over the summer. Students on planes and buses are gone in crashes while traveling to/from camp. A youth pastor and his wife die a mile from the church in a bus crash after a great week at camp. Other stories of death and loss emerge daily as youth groups venture out into the world to live in community.
One story that hit really close to my heart is the death of a young youth worker from the KC area. He went out running last Monday night and didn’t come home. His body was found several days later in an outdoor toilet near a middle school. Cause of death isn’t known, but it doesn’t really matter anyway. A family has a hole torn in their heart and the church community mourns. His name was Chad Rogers.
I knew Chad. I was invited in last February by the Missouri United Methodist Conference to do a training day for small church youth workers and Chad was there. He was engaged, listening, responding, enthusiastic and stayed afterwards to chat. I really had nowhere to be…so I stayed. We sat together, along with our host, and chatted through his life and ministry history. Chad friended me on Facebook and of course, I accepted. He was a delightful young man.
Now he’s gone. Well, gone to us. When I process life-moments like this, my default reaction is to wonder, “What can I do? How can I help? I have to do something! I don’t like this; I don’t like it one bit, God!” It’s the Mama Caro in me.
A few days have passed and the answer has come. You and I keep doing what we do. We keep talking to youth pastors. We plan a little extra time after a seminar to have a cup of coffee. We take the phone call we’re too tired to take. We post a few check-in notes on FB everyday to other youth workers. We text other youth friends. We make youth workers’ network meetings a priority. We love and care for each others like we’re an episode of “Band of Brothers” on HBO.
It won’t bring Chad back. It won’t bring back the youth pastor and his wife in the bus crash. But it will encourage other youth workers to “press on towards the goal” till God brings them (and us) to Him. While here among us, they’ll know somebody gave a ____.
That’s what we can do about it.