Dear God, please send us all the kids nobody else wants. Amen.” This was the prayer we prayed every day and when God answered this prayer, we were overwhelmed by the amount of hurt contained in these young people’s hearts. We were so overwhelmed that we began a teaching series called “Coping With…” that focused on the hard issues students were facing and hoped to give them healthy coping skills to navigate these challenges.

We invited professional social worker, counselors, teachers, law enforcement, medical professionals, and others to come and addressed issues such as cutting, eating disorders, depression and suicide, addiction, stress, and much more topics in that vein. Some of us even went back to school to study these issues ourselves. The response we got was tremendous and students were telling us how grateful they were that we were talking about the things they had to deal with on a regular basis.

Parents also began telling us of the impact these groups were having on their students and that their kids were finally being honest with them about their struggles. So, we began inviting parents to join us. They, in turn, invited their neighbors, and those neighbors told their youth pastors and church leaders and were soon inundated with requests to join us for these classes.

After much talk, collaboration, and prayer we have put our experience, resources, relationships, and expertise together to form a much-needed training resource for parents, churches, and school that focuses on filling the gaps in traditional youth ministry training. We focus on complex mental health/emotional/social health issues and how they affect adolescent development and Christian spirituality.

We have found that many of these hurting kids are not willing to set foot inside a church, don’t trust adults, and are marginalized to the fringes of youth society. It is our hope to equip those who love kids with the information they need to impact student lives. We also hope to equip them to move towards those hurting students, to build relationships with them and have important conversations on the fringe.