Lauren Carpenter said witnessing her parents go through a divorce when she was in junior high was difficult, but she found solace in speaking with children in her church’s youth group.
“It was nice to talk to other kids in the group whose parents have been through divorce,” said Carpenter, a junior at Farwell High School who is part of Soul’d Out, the youth group at First Baptist Church-Farwell.
“They could relate to me and I could talk to older adults about how I should deal with my relationships with my parents.”
Soul’d Out is led by youth pastor Mike Woods, who became the full-time bi-vocational youth pastor last October and held the same position part-time for the previous three years.
When youth arrive on Wednesday evenings at First Baptist Woods engages them in some type of game after making announcements. The group quickly jumps into Bible study next.
“The meetings are fun and enthusiastic,” said Woods, who took an early retirement from his former career to pastor full-time at FBC-Farwell.
“I think the kids get a whole lot out of it. They enjoy the fellowship with each other. They enjoy being able to come to a place where they feel loved and welcomed. You can just see it when they get here they like coming.”
Woods said the group offers youth a safe place to learn about Jesus Christ and his service to humanity. He also said group meetings provide students other faces to talk to about their problems and concerns besides their friends and relatives. He said he has witnessed attitudes improve as a result of attending meetings.
“It’s very important to the community because it’s a place where they know they can come if they need help,” Woods said.
“I get blessed every Wednesday by the questions they have, the fun that we have; just seeing a kid gain knowledge of Christ is such a blessing,” Woods said.
Soul’d Out members have done mission work in the community such as painting buildings and assisting area residents with yard work. The group has completed mission work in Glorieta where youth helped with construction and cleaning in the community. They also counseled disadvantaged children in a poor area of Santa Fe.
Carpenter said she enjoys group mission work most. She said doing a mission helps her break from her comfort zone and get comfortable with discussing God with individuals outside of her normal sphere of friends and peers.
“Our mission helps the town because people see that somebody cares about them,” Carpenter said.
“We took food to a lady who lived next to the school and she told us she was so happy because she thought people had forgotten about her. It was really nice to make people feel wanted.”
Carpenter believes older church members enjoy seeing the youth develop and give others hope. She hopes her group will grow and become more diverse.
Dillon Kirkland, 17, a junior at Farwell High, said group meetings provide an uplifting break from school work and life hassles.
“You’ll be going through some bad times and then Wednesday will come around,” Kirkland said.
“It (group meeting) will kind of help push you through the rest of the week through school.”
Woods said his goal is to minister to youth and prepare youngsters to share their faith with others outside of their community.
What: Soul’d Out (FBC-Farwell youth group)
Where: Youth room, FBC-Farwell, 404 Avenue E S, Farwell
When: Junior high group, 5 p.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday, High school group 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Who can attend: Junior high and high school aged youth