Mitchell Everingham knows firsthand how crucial good discipleship is in helping young people to follow Jesus, even when they’re facing pressures from the world.
Mitchell grew up in a Christian family, attending St Faith’s Anglican Church in Narrabeen and going to youth group every Friday night. But he experienced the common desire to be liked and accepted by his friends, and that led him to an unhealthy lifestyle of underage drinking and partying.
During that time, Mitchell’s youth leaders, Matt and Simon, invested heavily in him, urging him to keep following Jesus.
“Simon picked up surfing just to try and spend more time with me and build a relationship. Matt was training to be a police officer down in Goulburn, so he’d be down there Monday to Friday and drive back as soon as he finished to get to youth on a Friday night. Having two older role models investing in me and showing me that they cared helped me to stick around church, particularly toward the end of high school.”
Tragically, Mitchell’s faith was tested in an even more extreme way when his younger sister died suddenly just after he finished his HSC. Mitchell became very angry with God:
“For the next 12 months I was really angry and bitter and didn’t want to have anything to do with church. I thought, if there is a God then he isn’t good, isn’t loving, and I don’t want to know him, if he does even exist. It was a real rejection of what I’d heard and been taught.”
But throughout that time, Matt continued to invest in Mitchell. He rang or visited Mitchell every week to check on him, even months after Mitchell had stopped attending church.
Eventually, Mitchell’s friends from youth group invited him back, and with Matt’s support, Mitchell walked back into church and recommitted his life to Jesus.
Looking back, Mitchell knows that the continued investment of Matt and Simon was what enabled him to return to church, even after such trauma and distance from God:
“When I didn’t feel any love and care from God, the discipleship of Matt and my friends demonstrated it to me. I really do think that won me back … They demonstrated Christ’s love and care to me.”
This is the type of discipleship that you help provide through your support. As you help create an effective youth and children’s ministry in every church through Youthworks, you’re ensuring that young people like Mitchell don’t slip through the cracks.
Today, Mitchell is a youth minister at the same church where faithful leaders invested in him. He finds true joy in his role helping orient young people for life in Christ, and says:
“Young people have such a complex world to navigate and so many longings. To show them how multifaceted the gospel is and that it’s the answer and solution to all of their cries and all of their longings and all of their insecurities, to actually introduce them to the person of Jesus, is a privilege.”
Thank you for supporting people like Mitchell as they invest in the faith of children and teenagers!