1/29/2007 | 11:19:01 AM

One Student...Making a Difference

Senior year can be pretty busy for most high school students. Not only do you have to make time to study (with high hopes of graduating), you also need countless hours to check the mailbox for those college acceptance letters or to search for that ever-elusive "job." Jerod Wanner knows the drill. But, Jerod finds time in his stressful schedule to work at his church as well. Jerod is the first-ever student intern at New Castle Bible Church in Mackinaw, IL.

While he has been involved in church activities from AWANA all the way through high school youth group, he is now serving and leading his peers. Jerod works with Phil Shields and Josh Gates, the high school and junior high pastors at New Castle, learning and gaining experience as a junior high leader. Amanda McLaughlin, a high school youth leader, has watched Jerod grow and mature over the years. She said, "he is an extremely influential leader in his class, and always seems to challenge even me with how much he loves God."

Over the years, Jerod has participated in several Sonlife events. Last year, he journeyed with his youth group to Chicago to attend Sonlife's new high school experience called Merge. Jerod talked about what he was expecting from Merge…"I was expecting a spiritual high which wasn't what I needed, but that's what I wanted." Instead, he found something quite different. He explains, "Merge built a foundation that I am still building off of today. Merge changed everything about how I went about reading God's Word. It made me branch out and see his Word as a story that's completely relevant in my life. I began to see all the characters in his story and relate to them."

The biggest thing that has changed in Jerod's life over the past year is his personal time of prayer and study with God. He says, "My time with God after Merge has been changed dramatically. I used to see my time with God as a checklist, where if you read your Bible and prayed, you were set for the day…it just wasn't personal. Looking at God's Word as story instead of textbook makes experiencing God more real. Merge made digging into God's Word exhilarating and helped me understand that this story is still being told by you and me."

While Jerod is entering his final semester of high school, his passion for ministering to youth is not ending. Jerod has been accepted to Moody Bible Institute in the fall, and he desires to pursue Youth Ministry as his major. As he looks to the future, he notes, "I am privileged to be a part of His story and to change things in the ministry in my church, school and ministries that I have yet to encounter. Merge helped me realize that even though, in the grand scheme of things, I am small and inadequate, God is willing to use me to better his Kingdom." So, while Jerod makes plans for graduation and college – like most seniors – he's excited to be part of a bigger plan…the story and mission of God.

Please pray for Jerod, as he seeks to serve Jesus, and for the student ministry at New Castle Bible. For more information about Merge, go to www.sonlife.com/merge

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Latest update 7/26/2007

Created by R. Taylor