TIFTON — Northside Baptist Church Student Minister Christian Colson describes Brandy Carmichael*, a rising senior in his youth group, as “one of those rare students who don’t come around very often, but when they do, you hold on to them as long as you can.”
So he told her to leave.
Parents are told that that they aren’t preparing their children to be productive kids, but productive adults. The results come when sons and daughters find their way into the world and beyond the incubator of home. Student ministry can seem to be about the small group Bible studies, pizza parties, Airsoft battles, camps, mission trips, weird eating challenges, and discipleship weekends but it’s really tested in what happens after students receive their diploma and, spiritually speaking, the only two hands on the steering wheel are their own.
Carmichael will travel to another country through IMB Endeavor, which is purposed to give high school students an intensive 6-week overseas missions experience with a small team. The time overseas is sandwiched between a week of training/service in New York City before returning later to New York for a debriefing.
“This summer I’ll be working with a church and evangelizing throughout the city,” Carmichael said, “whether that means meeting people in coffee shops, sharing my own story, or just meeting physical needs. I’ll also be connecting believers to start Bible groups.”
There’s typically the leader – the star, if you will – of each student ministry and it’s hard to blame youth pastors for wanting them to hang around and set the pace for the rest of the group. Colson felt, though, that there was something else for Carmichael beside the local outreach, Kentucky mission trip, week of camp, and myriad other summer outings.
“It was at camp last year that she and I had a talk about her being called to the mission field,” Colson said. “Because of that and other ongoing conversations, when I saw the opportunity for her to serve somewhere overseas with the International Mission Board I knew she’d be great at it.”
That said, he knew Carmichael was still a teenager about to enter her last year of high school and the pull to stay at home was a strong one.
“I half-expected her to either not want to do it because she’d miss out on everything else, or at least be hesitant,” he said. “But she went home and talked to her parents and within a few days was online filling out the application.”
Carmichael will be serving in South Asia. Other locations for Endeavor students in 2016 include Mexico, Brazil, and Ecuador. Excited, she also admitted that anxiety of doing something for the first time.
“It took fasting and prayer to decide whether God was calling me to this trip,” she said. “I’m expecting to see my walk with God grow and have a much closer relationship with Him. I also know I’m going to have to abandon all of my worries, fears, and doubts and completely trust that God has control over everything.”
With a family heavily involved in church life, Carmichael has followed suit in teaching Sunday School, small groups, and Vacation Bible School in addition to taking part in her school’s show choir and working part-time at the local rec department.
“I’m blessed to have grown up in a strong Christian home. My parents have always told me that if it’s God’s will for me to go, then that’s exactly what I’m supposed to do. They’ve had my back through every decision and especially this one! They’ve prayed with me, prayed over me, and encouraged me every step of the way,” she said.
There is a strategy to achieve growth through saying “no.” Last August Colson told Carmichael she could either co-lead a small group or continue to be the lead singer in the youth band, but not both.
The move, he explained, was to not let her attention get diluted but also to provide a place of leadership for another student.
“She does co-lead a weekly girls Bible Study … [and] helps out at VBS and Winshape camps,” he said. “She’s just an all-around leader.”