Our amazing AABC youth leaders!
I've said it before: I love youth ministry! The youth are fun, exciting, passionate and talented. They talk about video games, movies, food, sports and all sorts of things. On top of that, they also have a great desire to personally know God, so I love that I get to be a part of this ministry and count it a great honor to serve as AABC's youth pastor.
In general, ministry can be difficult and lonely, but by God's grace, I don't have to do it alone. God has provided many youth counselors and youth Sunday school teachers to AABC to lead the youth and encourage the youth group parents and families to love God and to love people more. Here is a short intro to all the current youth counselors and Sunday School teachers. The first four (Jany, Charlie, Paul and Amy) are counselors, and the last two (Esther and Chris) are Sunday School teachers. Please praise God for them and pray for them whenever the Lord reminds you of them. Remember they are real people with real feelings. They go through mountains and valleys too. High-five them. Encourage them in the church hallways and throughout the week. Send them gifts. Bring them meals. Love on them well.
Also, if you're not serving in any capacity at AABC and you feel like the Lord is leading you to join the youth ministry team, feel free to contact me (Jason Wang)! I would love to get to know you more.
Your favorite Bible character that you relate to and why: My favorite character is Esther, but I don't know if I can relate to her since she's way too cool. I love her story because it's a beautiful story of courage, faith in God and love for her people/family. She went from being an orphan to the queen of one of the most powerful countries of the time, and she was still faithful to God and her people even though she was placed in such an elevated status. Also stories of women—much less a whole book of the Bible devoted to a woman's story—are far and few in between, so yay for representation!
Your favorite Bible verse: Philippians 4:6–7
What do you love about the TUFFers? Everything! They have so much enthusiasm and love for each other and God. I learn so much from them and am really honored to serve in this group.
When you're overworked or stressed, how are you most encouraged? A genuine/deep hug; kind, encouraging words; a listening ear; alone time; and good food (OK, maybe my love languages are obvious now XD).
Your favorite Bible character that you relate to and why: Gideon. The reason I relate to Gideon is because when we are first introduced to Gideon in the book of Judges, he is found hiding from Israel's current oppressors. Gideon is not seen squatting 200 lbs or karate-chopping his enemies in half. Instead, he is presented as a timid, scared and anxious man. I often find myself to be like Gideon; thus, I find great hope in knowing that God chose Gideon to be a leader despite his shortcomings.
Your favorite Bible verse: Right now, I really like John 10:41 because it highlights John the Baptist's faithfulness.
What do you love about the TUFFers? I really enjoy their willingness to engage with one another. It's pretty easy to stick to the people that are like-minded, have similar interests and are of the same age and gender. However, the TUFFers demonstrate a level of intentionality and compassion for one another that I really appreciate.
When you're overworked or stressed, how are you most encouraged? I enjoy talking long prayer walks. These moments that I have with God have become a source of refreshment for me.
Your favorite Bible character that you relate to and why: David because although he was a great man, he had flaws and he acknowledged them and was honest with God about them.
Your favorite Bible verse: James 2:17: “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
What do you love about the TUFFers? Their eagerness to learn.
When you're overworked or stressed, how are you most encouraged? Being able to go to God in prayer and to commit it all to Him.
Your favorite Bible character that you relate to and why: I’m currently going through the Old Testament again, so I’m relating a lot to Ruth and Job right now.
Why Ruth? Her life and her book are a breath of fresh air of sacrifice, humility and godliness, coming right after 21 of the worst chapters in Israel’s history in Judges. Ruth also sets a beautiful example of the values of loyalty and faithfulness. Her decision to go with Naomi ends up being the path to redemption for both of them. Ruth shows us that bravery and faith sometimes look like just doing the next thing while not knowing what the outcome is going to be yet trusting that God is in control. Ruth reminded me that God uses our circumstances and decisions for good when we choose to follow Him.
Job! Job! Job! I mean no book cuts through the superficial spirituality of the “right way” to respond to suffering the way Job does. Any time someone says God won’t give you more than you can handle, my mind is drawn to Job 6 where Job wishes God would take his life. The issue of righteous suffering used to be a really big obstacle to faith for me, and Job is about as clear an answer as the Bible gives. His life is not a formula for how to deal with suffering—just a transparent, raw, unfiltered example. “I know my Redeemer lives … even after my skin is destroyed, apart from this flesh I will see God.” Bitterness, complaining, depression and all, he never let go and he very much saw God. It’s such a good reminder that though we do not always know why we suffer, we can bring our pain and grief to God and trust that He is wise and knows what He's doing.
Your favorite Bible verse: We love because he first loved us. –1 John 4:19
What do you love about the TUFFers? There is so much to love about the TUFFers. I’ll just list a few things here: I love that they’re always asking for more! It’s not what you think when I say more. They’re always asking to be more challenged so they can learn more about Jesus. They continuously ask the counselors for more "whats" to dig deeper into scripture. They’re always asking to serve more. They love AABC and the community, and it really does show by how they continuously serve with happy hearts!! They’re also always asking for more ways to give back and love one another. I myself am constantly at the receiving end of their generous and thoughtful hearts. The TUFFers are also really empathetic. It’s such a privilege that I get to serve them and witness how they walk alongside not just each other but also their counselors through seasons of suffering and hardship. I also love how they strive to be inclusive. To provide a safe place for each TUFFer to come as is. Your brokenness is welcome here at TUFF!
When you're overworked or stressed, how are you most encouraged? I love words of encouragement and thoughtful little gifts. I also really love meaningful letters. I have a box of letters from friends and TUFFers. I love reading through them, especially when I’m feeling down. I also always appreciate when people check in with me, asking how I’m really doing and praying with me.
Your favorite Bible character that you relate to and why: Joseph because even when times were tough and not going great, he still saw God's presence in his life and he continually sought after Him.
Your favorite Bible verse: Proverbs 3:5–6
What do you love about the TUFFers? Their enthusiasm and their love to learn about God and to help others especially those in need.
When you're overworked or stressed, how are you most encouraged? I'm most encouraged by how much my husband, Kenny, and my children, Zachary and Sophia, love and care for me. Being reminded of that pretty much melts away the stress!
Your favorite Bible character that you relate to and why: Paul. Although not exactly the same, I feel like God has allowed me to experience and persevere through an array of trials. They were painful experiences, but I believe God has been able to use those experiences through me to help push others toward Christ.
Your favorite Bible verse: John 15:13: "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." One of the most beautiful yet tragic things to know is that Jesus' death was necessary to prove His love for us.
What do you love about the TUFFers? I think it's rare to find a youth group where the individuals care so much for other individuals. I love that they show up and are present with each other. I also love that they engage with the counselors and Sunday School teachers so well.
When you're overworked or stressed, how are you most encouraged? Being able to share what's on my heart with the right people is always encouraging to me.