Farewell Address

 Dear Fire 12:29 Student Ministry,

Four years ago our family embarked upon an amazing journey. Upon receiving God's call to Youth Ministry in 2008, Amanda and I didn't have any idea of what youth ministry was about. Starting off super green in ministry, the only reliance we had was that God had called us to this great ministry and He was going to have to equip us... or we'd fail miserably. We quickly moved into the roll as youth pastors at Temple Church of God- but were not as quick at developing relationships with all of the students.

"Why won't they just acknowledge our postion?", we'd often ask each other. As time moved on, Amanda and I struggled with what youth ministry entailed. "Do we take them on trips?" , "What do we teach them?" "Are we sure this is where we've been called?" These were just a few of the hundreds of questions we asked each other and ourselves. The longer we struggled with these questions the more frustrated we became... until God finally spoke into our lives and clearly said, "If I've called you, I'll equip you". From that moment forward we decided to dedicate our lives to this great ministry!

As time passed we became more comfortable with our calling and position as well as developing a trusting relationship with the youth of Fire 12:29. As anyone, that deals with teens and pre-teens, will tell you- they [teens] are not always the easiest to develop true relationships with. They've [teens] been through broken homes, battered emotions, broken promises, etc and are not always willing to "let you in" at first. But, we were up for all of the challanges that ministry had to offer. God has truly provided a grace and mercy for Amanda and I in this ministry.

As Amanda and I grew into the calling of our ministry, the youth group began to grow too. I'd be lying if I said we didn't have times of discouragement as well as the thought of leaving- but then again, who hasn't had those thoughts a time or two? It was our commitment to God and the students he entrusted to us, that kept our faith and fire alive. If you are a youth minister, you will rub many people the wrong way- but without the frictions there would be not motion. Combustable engines can not combust with out the spark and constant friction from the pistons, provided they are well oiled. Youth ministers, although you may "cause friction" at times- make sure it is not without the oiled anointing. We had to discern this at an early time in our ministry.

This journey has been most rewarding. Although the youth didn't grow into super spiritual Christians at first- Amanda and I had the gracious opportunity to help them grow into their spiritual jumpsuits. Watching them [Fire 12:29 Students] grow into the strong, maturing Christians that they are today has been one of the greatest rewards that God has allowed us to receive. We will never forget where we started- every rocket needs a lauch pad! You have encouraged us when we were tired and weary. You've made us cry, laugh and pray harder than we've ever done. Thank you for the amazing opportunity to lead you and teach you.

We are forever grateful for the mentoring, rebukes, encouragement and tears we've had at Temple and with the Fire 12:29 Students. Leaving you guys has been one of THE toughest decisions we have ever had to make. Know, that you will always be in our hearts and prayers and are always welcome to visit anytime.

From the bottom of our hearts, Amanda and I want to say a sincere Thank You!

Your former Youth Pastors,

Shane, Amanda, Connie & Carsey Tarpley

- Keep the faith and fire alive-

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