I don't want anyone thinking that I'm resorting to unrestrained flattery when I say Beth Jensen was an attractive and delightful and unfailingly cheerful presence in the youth group during my years at Concord Bible Church. Because that is quite restrained praise.
So I'm happy to report that Beth has continued in her walk with Christ for the the couple of decades since Mindy and I served at CBC. And it was good to get together with her Sunday before evening worship at Shelter Covenant Church in Concord (we'll report about the service right here tomorrow).
We asked first about what Beth remembered and appreciated about growing up in Concord Bible Church. Beth said she appreciated the youth leaders that came alongside her, such as Nancy Walter (who faithfully served as a youth volunteer with her husband, Brad). She remembers that in those years her parents were active in the church, her mother in worship and that her father was kept involved. She said that the church provided balance for her life in public school ("like a support group, but not").
I asked her what might be some less positive memories of church life from those years. She did that on occasion she felt like she didn't live up to expectations of some the leadership. In hindsight, she said she appreciated the opportunities for mission work, social activities, and Bible study. She also felt free during those years to invite friends to church and youth group, including friends from the swim team ("all my funky crew"). She said she "really appreciated that part of my childhood."
Though Beth remained in the area, she eventually changed churches. She felt she she needed to make some faith choices on her own. One of those choices was to become a part of YWAM (Youth with a Mission). She received ministry training and was involved in ministries in Hollywood and Africa (two quite foreign mission fields).
As for church, a friend from CBC invited her to attend a new church. This church, Shelter, was founded by InterVarsity leaders (IV is an outreach ministry to college students). People in the church were also involved in Wild Life and Young Life (ministries to Jr. High and High School students). Beth spent some time involved with both of those ministries.
Beth has attended Shelter for the last 17 years. But she got married last year (to a great guy, Matthew Warner, who we also were able to spend time with yesterday). Beth and Matthew believe God is calling them to find a church they can share. From experience, I know such searches can be difficult. But I'm sure God will direct them, just as He's been quite obviously directing Beth in the past.