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Youth Pastors Have Favorites...

...let me tell you about mine...

Last week I had the honor of officiating the wedding for Mikael and Ashley Ritter.
I've known Mikael since he was headed into the 8th grade. My first contact with him was during a weekend retreat where after some verbal prompting Mikael ended up getting duct-taped to his bunk bed. Mikael is a very smart young man who thinks through life and has made me proud to know him. He was in my first youth ministry in Texas, served as an intern one summer with me in VA and now works on staff at the greatest University on the planet. He's a natural leader who leads by example and a dedicated worker who won't rest until a project he's working on is completed with excellence. I secretly (well, not so secretly) hope one day to partner with him in ministry once he's finished up at LU.

Ashley is Mikael's bride. I've known Ashley since she was entering into her freshman year of high school. Ashley is a hilarious yet compellingly thoughtful young woman. She's faced challenges supremely and has spent her life trying to learn and live Jesus Christ. Ashley was a part of my youth ministry here in Virginia and then (with her family) helped start our church. She's always been an active leader in whatever environment she's been placed and she's served Christ more than nearly every adult I know.


Ashley has a great sense of humor so its no surprise that as her youth pastor I had plenty of opportunity to see that side of her. One year we had the new 6th grade in our youth department for the first time. I asked Ashley if she'd help me out. When I got up to welcome the new 6th graders Ashley pretended to be talking to a friend in the front row. I acted like her rude behavior got under my skin and I reached out and grabbed her by her pony tail and pretended to throw her across the front row into some empty chairs. Ashley (in control the entire time) played the part well and the look on the faces of our new 6th graders was priceless. Ashley has also been the recipient of under-arm sweat, chewed oreos and the occasional trash-can.

When my wife and I came to Virginia from Texas we missed several families. One of the greatest families we were leaving behind were Mikael's. His parents are allthatandabagofchips kinda parents. When we arrived in Virginia and met Ashley I distinctly remember my wife and I talking about how great they would be for one another (They were barely in High School mind you). They were natural compliments for one another.

Ashley and Mikael met when Mikael came up as a part of a mission trip (seek kids, it pays to love Jesus) to our church. They have been wooing one another ever since. They are now both at LU finishing degrees.

So for me to have the honor of marrying these two love birds was the highlight of my entire youth ministry career. While I'm certain they will face trials of life I believe they will face them with Jesus as their guide and ultimately win with their family together.


I wish I could say that our ministry produced nothing but Mikael and Ashley's but I can't. What I can be confident of however is that these two will go on to minister to many more people. With God's grace they will be able to see their lives reproduced in other young people and that would be a blessing to youth pastors everywhere.

Congrats to the Ritters! You two rock!

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Monday, June 23, 2008

2 Comments:

At 10:15 PM, Blogger JC said...

Great story. Thanks for sharing1

 
At 12:13 PM, Blogger Happy Mommy said...

Oh my gosh! I am crying here! I love Ashley and am so happy for her! I had no idea you knew her husband before you moved very cool story!

 

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