To Jimmy’s new small group leader or youth pastor,
I don’t really feel like I know much about this guy. He’s homeschooled, came halfway through 8th grade and honestly, I didn’t even really grasp his name until our last retreat as a small group. Fortunately for him, he found a friend who is in our group who is also homeschooled.
Jimmy’s moved all the way from Atlanta, by way of California. Due to some crazy family circumstances, he’s been moving around a lot, so please try and not force him to come out of his shell. Also, don’t get on him to much for being shy. He can’t really trust making friends since he’s had to move so much. With an absent father and older brothers constantly ragging on him and teasing him into submission, I can’t say I blame him. Yes it is completely unhealthy and it is unfortunate, but all you can do is remind him what he’s worth.
Don’t fret though, there is hope in all of this. If you want to see him light up immediately, just mention the words “Tri-Tip.”
If you want to know what tri-tip is, just do a quick search for Santa Maria Tri-tip and if you want to keep him talking, ask him what his favorite restaurant is to get tri-tip.
At Walking Wisely Weekend this past February, once I found out he used to live in Santa Maria, CA I mentioned I was born there, and that I cook this lovely cut of meat every now and again. This seemed to open him up, and get him to start engaging with the rest of the group.
It’s crazy how one small connection like this can change the whole demeanor of a middle schooler. If you think about it, this kid knew absolutely nobody after recently moving from California. Then after one invitation, he made a choice to stay with a bunch of unknown 8th graders overnight. He shared his story and put himself out there. All he needed was that 1 small connecting piece to come out of his shell.
I can only assume that you won’t have too much time with Jimmy, as he will probably be up and out before you know it. I trust you will cherish the time you have with him, for God’s placed you in his path to do as such. I thank you for not counting him out as the shy guy, and for going the extra mile to find that 1 connection.
Letter 4 in the Hand Off series.
(names changed to protect identities)