This is part 4 of Sam’s Story. To read part 1, click here. To read part 2, click here. To read part 3, click here.

Sunday morning was typically a big day for Sam. He needed to get to the church early and he was busy all day long. Today was different, though. He just needed to make his way to the convention center for the end of NYWC 2019.

Before he found his workshop, Sam made a stop by the National Network of Youth Ministries’ booth. He had heard about them all weekend, but he kept forgetting to stop by and find out more. He discovered they have networks of youth workers all around the country. They even had one within driving distance of his church. He took note of the network leader and planned to contact him when he got home.

Over the years, Sam had realized there were parts of the general population he did not understand for various reasons. Growing up, he knew a few people who looked and acted differently than him, but his perspective was limited. The last few years, though, Sam had met more and more people who were different. Some of those people had physical and psychological disabilities. So when he saw Joel Sonnenberg had a workshop all about welcoming people like that, he was all over it.

Joel shared some practical tips for welcoming people with disabilities in our church, which gave Sam hope in how he could approach them in the future and lead his team to approach them. Sam was especially thankful that Youth Specialties had someone with physical disabilities teaching this workshop.

With some new tools in his metaphorical tool belt, Sam headed off to the final Big Room main session feeling both energized and also overwhelmed. Thankfully, it was like YS knew this would happen and had Crystal Chiang ready to speak about all that pressure. Instead of numbing the overwhelming feelings, she encouraged everyone to remember the grace and peace of God. As Sam heard these words, his heart began to melt in the hands of his God who keeps going even when we cannot.

Just as Sam opened his eyes from a quick prayer of thanksgiving, Doug Fields walked on the stage to present the closing message. As a direct compliment to Samer Massad’s message, Doug spoke about our need for Christ. While we often wear our busyness as an award, he encourage Sam and everyone to focus more on presence. That was exactly what Sam needed to hear. He knew that he had become busy, trying to do everything well in ministry, and perhaps even putting himself in Jesus’ shoes. He made sure to underline Doug’s quote, “Busyness is a choice, and there is a price to pay for it.”

After the Big Room ended, Sam was filled with another mix of emotions. While he wasn’t as overwhelmed anymore, in addition to his excitement, he was feeling sad. He had met so many amazing youth workers over the past few days, who were just as passionate about the next generation as he was. Some of them were way more passionate. Now he would have to leave them. Thankfully, he remembered the name he wrote down earlier that morning, the name of the person running his local network, and his excitement took over.

Lunch was quick, as Sam’s flight would leave at 3:00, but he made sure to tell his new friends goodbye. They prayed together and exchanged contact information before heading their own way, back to their own ministries. And as Sam settled into his seat on the airplane, he thanked God for all the insight, wisdom, encouragement, and camaraderie he had experienced over the past few days at NYWC 2019.


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