The months following Devon’s baptism were the best of his life. Whereas before he had rejected the Bible and scorned anything to do with church life he was now waking up every morning with an insatiable hunger for the Word and for the things of God. One morning after Devon had finished reading his Bible, the telephone rang. When Devon answered he heard, “Hello Devon; it’s Pastor Benson.”
“Hello, Pastor Benson, what can I do for you?
“I’m sorry to bother you so early in the morning, but one of our volunteers for the Saturday morning program canceled and we can’t get any of our other regular volunteers to come in and fill in.”
“Say no more, Pastor; what time should I be there?”
“Well, the program starts at about 9:00.”
Devon looked up at his clock and saw that it was already 8:00, and so he replied, “In that case I better get going.”
“Thank you so much Devon, I appreciate it.”
“No problem, Pastor.” He quickly showered and got dressed, and then he drove to the church. When he arrived there he saw a lady standing at the door ready to greet him.
“You must be Devon! I’m Sister Vanessa, the coordinator of the Saturday program. Thank you for coming on such short notice.”
“You’re welcome,” Devon said as he reached out to shake Sister Vanessa’s hand. Devon followed her inside the youth sanctuary where there were tables set up on one side of the room and rows of chairs on the other. There were four other volunteers present, and to his amazement he found that one of them was Jessica. The other three were the pastor’s son Ryan, who was about Devon’s age; Clara, who was about twenty-one; and Patricia, a motherly-looking lady with a bright smile. Soon after nine o’clock the participants began arriving.
Once everyone had arrived and was seated, Sister Vanessa clapped her hands to get everyone’s attention. “Thank you all for coming today! We have a new volunteer with us,” and as she turned her attention towards Devon she said, “and his name is Devon.” About sixteen pairs of eyes turned to look at him,
”Hi, Devon!” they called out in unison. After Devon had been introduced, prayer and worship followed. After the last song Sister Vanessa said, “Does anyone have homework today?” About ten people put up their hands. “Quite a homework crowd we have this week! What would everyone else like to do?”
“Can I play basketball?” asked one of the boys.
“Let’s see,” Sister Vanessa said, “Who else would like to play basketball?” The remainder of the students raised their hands. “I need one volunteer to go outside with them.”
“I’ll go,” Devon said. “That would be wonderful Devon, thank you,” Sister Vanessa replied with a warm smile. Devon followed the students to the basketball court. Devon was having so much fun with them shooting hoops that he didn’t realize until Sister Vanessa came outside that it was time for the participants to go home. While Devon and the volunteers were cleaning up, he walked over to where Sister Vanessa was putting away the paints.
“How could I become a regular volunteer?” he asked.
“The youth ministry is always looking for new volunteers! Just go and see Pastor Martin, the youth pastor; he has the sign-up forms for volunteers.”
Not only was Pastor Martin thrilled that Devon wanted to sign up for youth ministry, but pretty soon whenever the church needed a volunteer Devon was the first one called upon and the first one to sign up for anything, but his passion was for the youth. He loved the idea of mentoring people in the same situation that he once had been in, and he loved sharing his testimony with them and encouraging them like Pastor Benson had done for him.
One morning while Devon was in daily devotions the Lord whispered to his spirit, young people need guidance from someone like you; they need to know that I love them, and your experience would really help them see that. Devon didn’t hear from God anymore on the subject for about four months, and then one Sunday in the church bulletin there was a posting for youth counselors. It was right then that Devon knew for sure that working with young people was his calling. He made an appointment to see the head of the youth counseling department, Sherry Wilson.
When he met with Sherry, one of the things she asked Devon was whether he had any special training or qualifications. When he explained that he had none, Sherry looked at him regretfully and gave a sigh, saying, “I’m sorry, Devon, but without having any formal education or training for working with youth, I don’t think we could use you as a counselor. Unfortunately, in order to work here all counselors need to have formal training. I’m sorry … I really am.” She went on to explain that Devon would have to go back to school and graduate from a child development program. “That’s okay,” he assured her. “Thank you for your time.”
For some reason despite this disappointing news, Devon felt that God was telling him not to go back to school because something better was going to happen.
When Devon was leaving the church one summer day after volunteering for a children’s and youth camp, he saw Pastor Martin coming down the hall toward him. “Devon, can I see you in my office for a minute please?”
“Sure,” Devon replied, and he followed Pastor Martin to his office. When they got inside Pastor Martin closed the door. “The reason I wanted to see you was to tell you that as of this September I’m going to be stepping down as youth pastor. I’m going to be ministering abroad. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being youth pastor, but the Lord is calling me to go around the world and minister to His people. The church needs a new youth pastor, and I would be honored if you would take my place.”
Devon was stunned; he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “But, Sir, I’m not a pastor, and I have no official training in youth development.”
“Devon, over the past three years you have served tirelessly working in not only the youth department but in many other departments. You have been an exemplary leader and you’ve set a fine example for the young men in this church. You are able to communicate with these young people in a way that I have never seen before. You can relate to them your shining example of how God can turn anyone around.”
“Well, Sir, I really don’t know what to say … I have to pray about it for a while.”
“Sure, take your time; very few people have the kind of dedication that you have, and whether you know it or not you deserve this position. You have worked for it and you have earned it.”
Devon decided to spend a month in prayer and fasting about this decision. At the end of the month he went to see Pastor Martin. Once he was in the pastor’s office he came right to the point. “Pastor, I’ve decided to accept the position as youth leader.”
“That’s wonderful, Devon, I knew you would!” The two men shook hands and then Pastor Martin began to tell Devon about his preparation and his ordination ceremony, which would be held just two weeks later.
The ceremony was one of the most special events of Devon’s life. He felt that now truly the hand of God was on him to be a leader. In his car on the way home Devon said to himself out loud, “I’m now the official youth leader!” And then he prayed, Lord you’ve been so wonderful to me. I love you so much … how can I ever thank you? There are no words to describe how I feel.