"Sometimes I'm blown away by the depth of their understanding," says a senior who volunteers with Youth for Christ Winnipeg.
While Sue Simpson hasn't parented teenagers for many years, she had the opportunity to be apart of a lunchtime ministry with Youth for Christ (YFC) out of her church, and she took it.
"I'm a member at Kildonan Community Church, so when Kevin came on, I guess he started coming to our Bible studies and I got to know him a little. When he was starting up the Drop-In at noontime at Kildonan, I just thought it would be an interesting opportunity to get involved with the youth," says Simpson.
Kevin Pauls is a YFC Community Minister who works out of Kildonan Community Church. He came up with the lunchtime program where local teenagers could come to the church a few times a week during their lunch hour to simply hang out. The program started in October of 2019.
"I went in on Tuesday at noon and there were a group of high school kids who would come. It was there Tuesdays and Fridays at the church," she says.
Teenagers could come to simply play board games, foosball, ping pong, or hang out.
"I have two boys, but they're 38 and 41 so it's been a long time since I've had teenagers," says the 71-year-old volunteer. "The kids are really interesting and open."
Simpson says that she was more like a quiet presence, helping with snacks and overseeing everything.
Youth for Christ Winnipeg runs many different programs, including ones out of churches like this one, not just in their building on Main St.
"It's been very exciting for us, it's this new ministry and we don't have a lot of youth in our church. Youth bring energy, enthusiasm, and renewal."
The pandemic shut the noon-hour church program down but Pauls found other ways to stay connected to the youth, and Simpson stayed on as a mentor also.
"In the fall Kevin started a life journalling group with one of the young women who had graduated from high school, who'd run a youth ALPHA program. He asked if I'd like to participate. I was really pleased to be apart of that."
The group read their Bible daily on their own, wrote down a few reflections and then would meet every couple of weeks on Zoom to share and pray.
"Since February I've been involved in their weekly youth ALPHA. That's been very exciting. Some of them prayed aloud for the first time and they have their questions and doubts," says Simpson.
Pauls, at the age of 35, taught himself how to skateboard as a connection point with some of the youth.
"The pandemic has been a terrible time but this has been something very positive that's come out of it and I don't know if it would have happened in the same way had it not been for the pandemic."
Age doesn't stop Simpson from enjoying this new role in youth ministry and she encourages others to step out.
"I have a quiet presence but I can affirm and encourage the young people and pray for them. I hope every one of them can realize that they're a beloved child of God. Even though I'm not into video games or social media, they seem to accept me too. Go out of your comfort zone and try something new."
YFC Winnipeg's annual Power of Hope radiothon will take place from April 6-8 on CHVN 95.1 FM. Watch for more stories like this and join us in praying for the ministry and the people they minister to.