The Hintons are currently in the U.S. and have had unique opportunities to be blessed.
Many questions swirled through our minds as we prepared to visit our home church after three years on the field. There were plenty of emotions, nerves, and excitement as we were about to see this family of faith with whom we had served for over seven years. The biggest question I had was, “Will there be fruit?”
As God often does, He left us with our jaws on the ground and tears in our eyes as He graciously allowed Melissa and me to see some fruit from our years of youth ministry. God reminded us of why we do what we do in youth ministry and youth ministry training.
This special blessing actually began before we made it to the small town of Greenbrier, Tennessee. We had the opportunity to have dinner with a former student and her husband. In spending time with them, not only was I proud to see that she is a faithful wife and mother, but she also had received her degree in biblical counseling with plans of serving in the local church.
Having served together on several mission teams to Africa and South America, this young couple clearly understands the biblical mandate of investing in people. To see this young lady, who we met when she was in 8th grade, following God so faithfully and strongly was an encouragement that cannot be described. God was beginning to show us a glimpse of the fruit from all that work years ago.
A couple days later we finally made our long-awaited return to Bethel Baptist. It was a full day of fellowship, blessing and encouragement. I had the opportunity to share a ministry update and short message from God’s word with the congregation. After enjoying lunch with one of our supporting families we returned to the church for a fellowship fundraiser. God showed us further the fruit, the harvest, that He had gathered.
The first thing that blew us away was the turnout as around one hundred people including about 20 former students attended. The true blessing came as we got to spend time with them and see how they were following the Lord faithfully in their lives, marriages and careers, and that God was the top priority in their decision making.
One young lady who had married a youth pastor was telling Melissa and me about some of their students and the issues with which they are currently dealing – broken homes, thoughts of suicide, depression, and several others. She stated she wanted to love her youth as she had been loved in her youth group and emulate what had been taught to her years ago. Clearly, they have a tough ministry, but we were so proud to see them following and serving God despite the circumstances.
We also caught up with another student who I had baptized when he was in 7th grade. He and his wife are faithfully serving in a local church as a small group leaders, and they shared their plan of wanting to be missionaries to Asia. Their goal is to open up a coffee shop as a means to share Christ and provide jobs, meeting needs of people spiritually and physically.
As he and his wife laid out the plan and their commitment to it, I just stood humbled and amazed that God was showing me the continued work He was doing. Some of our students are now business owners, accountants, wellness coordinators, engineers, camp counselors, teachers, nurses, and the list goes on. We are certainly proud of them for their professional accomplishments, but they see their professions as a way to reach people with the Gospel.
As I stood in that parking lot and looked at the crowd and the students, God showed me a glimpse of His harvest. He showed me the fruit and reminded me and affirmed why youth ministry is so important.
So, after years of investing in these young people, they are now investing in others and even in our ministry. Some of the richest and most humbling blessings have been when these special people join our support team. Their support and encouragement make a special impact on our hearts. They desire the 2.3 billion unreached young people to hear about and believe in the same Jesus who changed their lives. We praise the Lord for the fruit and for showing us a piece of it.