This letter is to one of my heroes who turns 18 years old today. Happy Birthday, Jessica Yonko!
You turned 12 years old the month that we started North Creek Church. I remember the agonizing conversations with your parents behind the scenes. They knew that they were called to be a part of this church, but the sacrifice was pulling their 6th grade girl out of the opportunity to be in a thriving youth ministry. They knew their option was to drop you into a church that offered NOTHING for teenagers. They were worried to say the least.
Now, I look back on those worries and laugh a bit. I’ve seen you crowded into our church with over 100 teenagers around you and giggled about the fact that you don’t fit into the small group rooms because there are too many of you. You have been a part of countless ministries, events, and friendships within the walls of our church. These are the types of things that your parents (and us) only dreamed of for your life.
Although I know your parents were called, I am now quite confident that God called you as well. Your ministry has been one of new birth, watching things grow and flourish, and then stepping out all over again to the great unknown with our second campus. You have carried on your back the weight of faith and it has paid off time and time again. When other teenagers would have demanded the coolest, the trendiest, the most popular youth group, you jumped in to building one from the ground up. You are an entrepreneur of ministry, which means there is a lot of hard work with no guaranteed pay off. You did it anyway. And the payoff is eternal.
What I also love about you is that you aren’t perfect, but you have continually allowed Godly people to speak into your life and you’ve made corrections where necessary. So many people miss that the point of following Jesus is simply to start following again when we get off course. You have become a master at auto correcting yourself back to the path of Jesus.
I’m in awe of the woman I see before me where a little girl once was. I stand amazed at how far you’ve come in these six years. And now, we look to the future and we know that you’re going to have a beautiful life! One filled with obedience, adventures, and blessing.
Thank you for dedicating your teen years to this crazy dream! We wouldn’t want to take your chapter out of our story for anything. You are one of my all-time favorite people and I look forward to watching the rest of your life unfold…
We love you!
Mark and Stacy
Jessica and my daughter, Kennedy, in 2006.
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