Yesterday I went with some friends to explore Trier, the oldest city in Germany. It’s only about an hour away, so we drove up and walked around the Roman baths, the old Roman forum (now a church), and just explored the city. I’d spent the week prior reading pages after pages of military regulations trying to find answers to my questions (and not exactly succeeding). Reading ancient history and exploring ruins was a refreshing break.

This afternoon I packed a suitcase for my next 8 days of traveling. I fly out in the morning for a community visit, and immediately after returning I drive to help with an area-wide middle school weekend retreat. I’m going to southern Italy and then Bavaria, so deciding what to pack was a bit challenging. The suitcase closes, though, and I’m so excited to spend time with staff and middle schoolers and away from my computer.

And then tonight I sat down to write a short note to my childhood Christian Education Director – the lady who directed my children’s choir, led our youth group, trained my Sunday School teachers, attempted to teach me the organ, and was the inspiration for my choosing to study Christian Education in seminary. She’s retiring, and her church is collecting tributes for a memory book.

As I wrote to Miss Jones, I teared up a bit. I wasn’t that grateful a kid. I didn’t really express how much I appreciated her work, how she made that church a safe place for me, how she challenged me to serve and love others and live out faith. I don’t think I’ve ever told her how God used her in my life. I had no idea what He wanted from me for the longest time, and when I finally understood what path to study and choose, it came back to her – “I want to be Miss Jones.” [Yes, I said those exact words.]

My life and Miss Jones’ have looked rather different. She served churches through the southeast, in music and children’s ministry. I ended up serving with Youth for Christ, a para-church ministry to teenagers, first in upstate New York and now in Europe with military “brats.” I just told you about exploring a Roman city and packing a suitcase to fly to Italy. I imagine that sounds rather exotic, and Miss Jones would probably say that she and I have ended up in very different places. But have we?

Miss Jones loved kids. She loved the church of Jesus Christ. She invested in me, both by teaching and leading me and by asking me to serve God with her. She taught by example. And she told me about Jesus. That sounds kind of a lot like what I do – first in upstate New York, then in Germany and Spain, and now as I lead and train Club Beyond staff. We love the church of Jesus Christ, invest in military kids, and ask them to serve God.

I’m so thankful for the legacy of faith that I have. I’m thankful for people who have been obedient to God’s call to love kids. I’m thankful for the God who started the chain by loving humanity (loving me!) and coming to earth to walk with us. And I’m thankful that God still calls people to do the exact same thing, in a myriad of geographical contexts.

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