On any given Tuesday night you can find me running barefoot through the Herndon Lobby being chased by a posse of middle school girls chanting "8th grade girls...WE RUN THIS PLACE" I'll be a little out of breath, sure, but make no mistake about it— there's no place I'd rather be and no group of girls I'd rather be with.
If we were to rewind back to my own middle school years (which, let's all take a minute and praise God that this isn't possible), we would meet a version of me that would tell you with absolute certainty that once she got out of middle school, she was not going to look back. Because in so many ways, middle school is the least enjoyable thing I've ever spent 3 years of my life doing. And I venture to say I'm not alone in that. For me, the years between 6th and 8th grade were tumultuous. I didn't know Jesus, I didn't know what I was supposed to do with my insanely curly hair, and I didn't know how I was going to manage three whole years of drama, hormones, and so much awkward. They are three years of my life that I was fine pretending never actually happened.
So why, you may ask, am I now spending my free time with middle schoolers? Because of all those things I listed above. Because even though middle school was the worst for me, I survived it with the help of people willing to be in my corner. Because I believe in a God of redemption who can use the broken parts of our stories to do something really amazing in the lives of others.
When I was considering getting involved with Summit Student Ministries, I distinctly felt God calling me to be a part of making someone else’s middle school experience just a little bit better. I knew I had the chance to point middle school aged kids to Jesus during a time in their lives when their compasses get a little distorted. I wasn't sure I’d be great at it, I knew I didn’t really have much time for it, and I was definitely aware that middle schoolers aren't exactly known for being easy to deal with. And yet, here I am. I sent a simple email, went through leader training, and all of a sudden I had a bunch of 6th grade girls that made me twist off their Mountain Dew bottle caps, stalked my Instagram, and totally stole my heart.
Now it's two years later and those sweet 6th grade girls who were so nervous about starting middle school are about to be 8th graders. I've seen them go through everything from annoying siblings to family tragedies, zero interest in boys to crippling first heartbreaks, and having faith they simply inherited from their parents to knowing Jesus in a personal way. By being in these girls corners, I've seen God do extraordinary things as He grows them.
But it doesn’t even begin to stop there. Being involved with Summit Student Ministries has legitimately infiltrated my entire life in the best way possible. Those girls have changed me for the better more than I could've possibly imagined. We have no way of knowing what God will do with our obedience. We can venture a guess as to potential outcomes, but I personally find that God has never been constrained by my imagination. Rather, I show up with my minuscule amount of obedience and God works miracles in and through me that are Kingdom worthy despite the fact that I am not. God truly moves in mysterious, unfathomably beautiful, and huge ways. And He does this through our obedience. He moves in us. Let Him.
It's because of a handful of people during my middle school years that I made it. It's because of a handful of people I knew in college that I ended up at Summit and following Jesus for the first time. Now I not only know Him, but I’m a part of leading middle schoolers toward Him. That’s crazy. The ripple effect of your seemingly small act of obedience will go greater, deeper, and farther than you’ll possibly be able to grasp this side of heaven.
Maybe for you middle school was a walk in the park, but high school was a lot trickier to navigate. Or maybe you still can't believe you somehow survived those four-ish years of college. I don't know which stage of life it was for you, but I can guess that God has pulled you through a season that at the time you couldn't believe you could ever be pulled through. Maybe now it's time you go get in someone's corner and show them that He can do the same for them too.
If you are interested in learning more about being a Summit Students volunteer, please email our Family Ministries Director, Tracy Beeson.
Katie Schmidt is the Content Coordinator at Summit Church and also the leader of an 8th-grade girl Connect group. If you would like to get in touch with her about Summit Student Ministries, or to bum her out and let her know that you found a typo in this blog, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.