Six years ago, a Colorado teen first connected with the Edmond Youth Group. The relationships she formed would lead her to give her life to Jesus.
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By Bobby Ross Jr.
Each summer, the Edmond Youth Group (EYG) lets its light shine in a Colorado mountain community more than 600 miles from home.
Why do teens and adult sponsors from our congregation pack into white vans and drive all the way to Poncha Springs?
They go to host a Vacation Bible School for children eager to learn more about Jesus.
They go to make a difference in the lives of young people like Micaela Lowe.
“I met the Edmond Youth Group six years ago after my mom had encouraged me and my siblings to attend their VBS held in Poncha Springs,” said Micaela, who was 14 at the time and joined by her younger brother, Nate, and sister, Olivia. “On the first day, we immediately hit it off with several of the teens in their youth group. We had so much fun that we decided to go the whole week.”
Friendships blossomed, and the Lowe kids couldn’t wait to return to VBS the next year — and the year after that.
“This is a time when our teens shine,” youth minister Jeremy Robertson said. “They lead and serve in every capacity, as they prepare their classes, decorate the church building and, most importantly, touch the hearts of many kids.”
Kids like Micaela.
“The people from Edmond were so joyful and kind,” said Micaela, now 20 and a nursing student at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. “They were always greeting us with big smiles, and they made us feel welcome and (like we) belonged. People like Maryn Kingsley and Casey Farrar were just such real and authentic people. The EYG showed me how to love Jesus and have fun along the way.”
Poncha Springs is not a place where church is a high priority, youth ministry deacon Darren Adams said.
“You live in the mountains, and you’re getting up Sunday morning and riding your bicycles or climbing a mountain,” Darren said. “Church is the furthest thing from your mind.”
But the EYG is helping change that. The mission effort has resulted in at least nine or 10 baptisms, Darren said.
Via text messages and Facebook, Micaela and her siblings stayed in touch with their Edmond friends all year long.
Over Thanksgiving break of her senior year of high school, Micaela flew to Oklahoma to visit with the Kingsley family — Geoff, Rhonda, Maryn, Caleb and Asa — all of whom had participated in the Poncha Springs mission trip year after year.
This past December, Micaela returned to Oklahoma for the wedding of Maryn (now Thompson), who is about to graduate from Harding University in Searcy, Ark. While here, Micaela asked Darren — whose entire family also has made the Poncha Springs trip several times — to baptize her.
“What’s a better feeling than that — somebody asking you to baptize them?” he said. “It’s pretty awesome.”
“Amazing,” Rhonda Kingsley said of Micaela’s decision to give her life to God.
“I wanted to be freed and forgiven from all of my sins and be included in His Kingdom,” Micaela said. Maryn was so happy to hear the news.”
Darren immersed Micaela and welcomed her to the body of Christ on Dec. 28, 2015.
A big group of EYG teens — many of whom will travel to Poncha Springs again this summer — came to celebrate the spiritual milestone that night.
It’s a night that would not have been possible without the entire church’s support of missions, which is funded through our Commission Sunday contributions.
“Financial times are hard, and that helped us go,” Darren — whose wife Nicole and daughters Mariah and Paige all traveled to Poncha Springs six years in a row — said of Edmond making mission trips affordable. “We couldn’t do it without the funds the church gives.”
Rhonda Kingsley agreed.
“It is expensive to go on mission trips,” Rhonda said. “When the church started paying for more of it, it became more reachable.”
Because of Edmond’s commitment to missions, Micaela’s life won’t ever be the same. She now belongs to Christ.
“It was the best decision I could ever make,” she said of her baptism. “I felt so humbled that members from the EYG put a pause on their daily lives that night to come and support me. I also will never be able to thank Darren Adams enough for baptizing me that night. I was so humbled by everyone’s support, and I will never forget that night.”