Grace Nemeth didn’t expect to find Jesus while trapped on a bus for 20 hours. She was headed to Texas for the 2018 youth gathering in Houston. But by being thrown together with other with youth and leaders from Good Shepherd, Grace found strong belonging in her own church and the global church on the road to Texas. She also said the experience showed her that sitting and praying is not the only way to connect in faith — so is having fun.
According to Grace, two people got her on the bus — Kirstin and Jason. Grace recalls her and Kirstin bunking together on their first fall retreat, when neither of them knew too many others. Because both were on the shy side, they clicked. The other major connection was Jason. On the surface, they connected over both being runners. Yet there was more to their connection. Grace said Jason’s non-judgmental presence and willingness to listen deeply made her feel cared for.
But to get her to participate in youth activities at all at Good Shepherd, Grace needed a light push from her parents. She had been somewhat interested in high school fellowship opportunities. Her Amped small group tried to stay connected and encourage each other. But, without the gentle encouragement from her parents, Grace wouldn’t have found herself at youth group, on a retreat with Kirstin and Jason, or at the 2018 youth gathering.
Through church staff, parents (and maybe even in the means of transportation) Grace’s view of the world, and her relationship to Jesus Christ, was changed that trip. But it was Grace’s decision to go, who she hung out with and how she spent her time, that made the change happen. She hopes others at Good Shepherd take chances by coming to events, caring for those in their circle, seeing the hidden value in things like long bus rides, and remembering the One who supplies the fibers and weaves them altogether.