Today we’re hearing from Linda Weddle. Linda is Senior Program Designer for Youth Ministries at Awana and she also is a regular contributor to K! Magazine. She is an author, speaker, and writer. She has a passion for children and youth that is exemplified by her dedication to serving in the church for decades. We asked Linda how she knew she wanted to be involved in kidmin. When did she know? What contributed to her decision to dedicate so much of her life to children and youth? Here’s what she shared with us. (We’ll hear from her friend Karen in a few weeks!)
GROWING UP LOVING KIDS’ MINISTRY
Not long ago I ate lunch with Karen Apple. Karen lives and works in North Carolina and I live and work in Illinois. Karen is an early childhood specialist and frequent speaker at children’s ministry conferences and a contributor to K! Magazine. As someone who also speaks at conferences and contributes to K! Magazine, we have a lot in common and our conversation flowed easily.
But an even more significant commonality is that we are products of the same children’s ministry. From fourth grade on, we had the same pastor, the same Sunday school teachers, the same Awana leaders, the same youth group leaders, and many of the same friends. As we chatted about children’s ministry that day at lunch, we recognized the uniqueness of the environment where we were spiritually nurtured.
I am thankful …
1. For growing up in a church who saw the importance of children and youth ministry. I remember my musical friends being on the platform with their instruments or being integral parts of the adult choir. I remember some of the high school boys getting the opportunity to speak on summer Sunday nights for the vacationing pastor. I remember the artistic teens designing posters for the upcoming missions conference.
2. For getting the opportunity to serve at a young age. By age 17, I had my own Sunday school class of 4 year olds. Karen and I both served as leaders in Awana our senior year (which is when our friendship deepened as we would go out afterwards to feast on strawberry short cake and fried onion rings at the Red Balloon).
3. For a youth group that challenged us to be leaders. At the beginning of each year we were divided into teams and took turns coming up with the week’s meeting – including the Bible study. These had to be well done and well practiced. Standing in front of the group embarrassed and giggling didn’t cut it. Teams were also assigned to plan youth group events. We did the work. Our leaders were our guides.
Karen and I aren’t the only ones who benefitted from that environment. Others from that same group of kids are now serving the Lord in different capacities from teaching at a mission school in Kenya, to showing hospitality to international students, to working with students on university campuses and in many other ways.
So, thanks to all those who led us, pushed us and steered us toward serving others through ministry. Thanks for creating an environment where young kids could flourish spiritually.
Thank you for sharing Linda!