Published March 18, 2019

What God Told me to do at the Summit is Changing the Lives of Teenagers

The Global Leadership Summit is so inspiring and motivating–God always speaks to me through it. There have been years when I purposely didn’t go because I didn’t think I could do what God would tell me to do. I knew it had potential to give me a kick in the butt!

There have been years when I purposely didn’t go because I didn’t think I could do what God would tell me to do

I have been leading an outreach ministry for kids on the beach for the last 20 years. It is the best and the hardest thing I do all year, but the Summit equips and inspires me to keep going. It was during the Summit two years ago when I really felt God was saying, there’s more you can do, and I want you to do it. Stop waiting and just do it.

To provide context around this calling, you have to understand more about the ministry and what I was witnessing.

Beach ministry introduces young kids to Jesus

Years ago, an outreach ministry was created out of an organization called Scripture Union. Their goal is to promote biblical teaching and introduce children to Jesus on the beach. I first came across this ministry when I was a new mother. The ministry met on the beach in front of the hotel my family owned. My children started to attend, and I would invite the ministry team back to my house for lunch. I was passionate about this ministry, which eventually led to me being the coordinator for the Virginia Beach team.

But we were missing something.

We needed to make it a real outreach and target kids who don’t get to go to church. So we started renting vans and bringing in kids from projects and trailer parks. We coordinated with a local Christian school, and were able to bring 100 kids, sometimes three buses full! Most of these kids, ages kindergarten through sixth grade, come from low income families. I watched these kids grow up, and eventually, their kids were having kids.

I was reminded of the Summit when God told me there was more I can do.

One day, a fight broke out on the bus between two of the teenage girls. It was a wake-up call for me. I recognized that we needed to reach the teenagers in a different way. I started thinking about Young Life, a ministry for high school students. My husband used to be on their staff, and I thought, I’ve got to get these kids to Young Life.

I was reminded of the Summit when God told me there was more I can do. And I decided I wasn’t going to rest until I got these kids to Young Life.

But I didn’t know how to get them there. None of these kids had heard of Young Life. God gave me a major kick in the butt. He said, just trust me. Go and meet with the people at Young Life.

Serving teenagers when they need it most

I committed to pray. I shared my vision with the team about getting involved with Young Life. I talked to the folks at Young Life. I prayed some more. I continued to do this ministry with the young children, but they weren’t being impacted in the same way that the teenagers were. We started talking to the older teenage kids in the beach ministry about Young Life.

Two of the girls decided they wanted to go to Young Life camp—and they both gave their lives to the Lord!

I’m passionate about the kids in the neighborhoods where I serve. Today four of the teenage girls from my beach ministry are going to Young Life club. And we are creating a new program for kids and another program for the teenagers. More than 100 kids are a part of the beach ministry now; 50 are teenagers!

The most surprising thing God has shown me

I’m a 62-year-old grandmother with 11 grand kids, and I can run circles around teenagers! In my small group we prayed and tried to think of a word for the year. The word the Lord gave me was endurance. And this was before I agreed to volunteer with Young Life in addition to volunteering with the beach ministry. I’m passionate about children’s ministry, and I want to do it until I can’t do it anymore!

In my opinion, the Summit is not optional!

When I walked into the first session, I couldn’t stop crying.

If you are truly a leader, especially a Christian leader, the Summit is not optional. The first time I went to the Summit, I had been giving all of myself to our church’s children’s ministry. When I walked into the first session, I couldn’t stop crying. I just felt so loved and so cared for and so much in the presence of God. It was like God was wrapping his arms around me and saying rest and receive. And that’s the way the Summit is.

I get very emotional because the Summit is a time to stop and let God pour into you. In my opinion, all churches should make it mandatory for all their leaders, and pay for it and make sure they are there.

About the Author

Ana Strickland

Ministry Leader

Ana Strickland has been in ministry since the 90s. When Spring Branch Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia (a premier Summit host site) was planted in 1993, she started teaching in the children’s ministry, which she has continued to this day. With a passion for children outside the church as well, for the last 20 years, she’s also been serving children through a local outreach ministry with a mission to promote biblical teaching, and introduce children to Jesus.