Youth are a major part of our community and I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself as a pastor who is involved in youth ministry here in Grand Forks.
Like my father, I was born and raised in Grand Forks, getting involved in the community and growing to love life here.
This city has always been close to my heart and there has always been a place for me here. After graduating from Grand Forks Secondary School (GFSS) in 2006, I had the opportunity to attend Briercrest College and Seminary in Caronport, Sask. After four years of schooling, I received my BA in youth ministry and a minor in psychology.
Near the end of my schooling, I was given the chance to come back to Grand Forks and work in the very church I had attended growing up. Without hesitation I jumped at the opportunity to come back to the town I love and in the fall of 2011, I started a full-time youth ministry position at the Gospel Chapel.
In my graduating year at GFSS, I was asked dozens of times what I was going to do after graduation. It was that time of life when I had to start answering the questions of what I was going to be when I grew up.
Some of my peers had a good idea of what was next, some wanted to just get out of Grand Forks, and others had no idea. The main thing we all had in common was the constant pressure to answer what was next in our lives.
Youth are under incredible stress and pressure throughout high school. For starters they have to decide what comes after graduation. Then they are faced almost daily with temptations to get involved in things like drugs and alcohol. Finally, they are bombarded with voices telling them they need to act and look a certain way to be cool, not only by media, but also from their peers and even parents!
Where is the hope in all of this?
My goal as a youth pastor in Grand Forks is to come alongside the youth and aid them in their journey. Teenagers are living in a very complex and difficult world but there is hope for them. In Psalm 23:4 David speaks of his relationship with God saying, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.”
David talks in such a way that even though life can be hard and difficult, God offers hope and help that applies for us today. Christ offers hope in all circumstances.
Youth are a great asset to our community and they need direction. Teenagers are looking to us as adults for wisdom and guidance; they need adults in their lives who are willing to listen and whom they can trust.
My hope for this town is that we are able to support our youth and help them during this time in their lives. I seek to get to know the youth better in this community and help them on a spiritual level as well.
Teenagers want to believe and hope in something and my prayer is that they would turn to Christ as their hope and rock for the tough times now and whatever comes next.
– Benjamin Jepsen is associate/youth pastor at the Gospel Chapel in Grand Forks