Dancing in the Pain

"Smile!" the photographer said. "On three. One … two … " The certificate my wife, Ann, held before us showed that our church's youth group had received national recognition by our denomination. For a small two-point parish in rural Wisconsin, this was quite an honor. But as we posed for a photo for the local paper, our smiles were painted on. They hid what was really happening. "Three!" A click. A flash. It was done. We hadn't smiled much lately. In fact, we cried. Pastoring these two churches for the past eight years, we had poured ourselves into youth work, with some success. But recently our group had taken a tumble. Our strongest leaders had graduated from high school and were off at college. Our upcoming leaders chose not to meet the challenge. Drinking and sexual promiscuity were rampant in our local school. Our church kids' priorities had changed, and we saw less and less of them. At first, I denied that our group ...

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