How our students relate to the story of Joseph
Our youth ministry continues to focus on helping our students understand how the Bible relates to their lives. We recently took them on a four-month series on the story of Joseph.
It vividly represents the great truth that 'all things work together for good to those who loved God.' (Rom 8:28)
Hear from the youth pastors and students at Cadaniño about the impact it had.
Luigi, Youth Pastor, San Jose Pinula
Our 12-week series on the life of Joseph had a profound impact on our youth. We carefully focused on each part of his story so students could identify with what Joseph was going through. This clear focus allowed us to work through emotions that would otherwise go unnoticed when looking at the big picture.
It gave our youth a safe space to process their own lives by studying a Bible story that, in many ways, is very similar to what they live through, and it equipped them with the emotional language to express the things they feel.
We had many students come to ask for prayer or counseling as they began to see that much of what Joseph was going through was similar to their own experiences.
Some know exactly what it feels like to be betrayed by the people who are supposed to love them. They understand what it is like to be hated because of family circumstances beyond their control.
From the first lesson, where we focused on the story's context and the complicated history of Jacob's wives, many teens latched on to the story, seeing it as their own.
Throughout the series, we discussed how Joseph was hated, misunderstood, betrayed, enslaved, blessed, tempted, thrown in jail, and forgotten. Finally, after many challenging experiences, he is given an opportunity to interact with those who wronged him and has to choose whether to meet out vengeance or forgiveness.
Thankfully, he chooses to forgive his brothers and understand that God set his life on this path for the good of his family.
Every week, the students wore a small wool bracelet that served as a reminder to pray into the emotion we were discussing in class.
At the end of the week, they hung their colored bracelet on a wooden tunic, encouraging them to let go of that negative experience and to try and see Joseph's positive perspective concerning what they were feeling.
By the end of the series, we had a multicolored tunic, much like Joseph's, that is a testament to the brave emotional work each teen put in these last few months to forgive, let go, and heal.
Many of the teens feel misunderstood or betrayed, and this was a perfect chance to dig up those heart problems and see how God heals the most broken of souls. We had students who wanted to forgive those who had neglected or even abused them. It was incredible to see hearts changed by the Gospel and to watch them learn how the forgiveness of God can empower them to forgive others.
This series was an incredible opportunity to bond with the students over their own experiences and have them actively participate in their growth and healing.
Luke, Youth Pastor, Santa Fe
This series was a journey through the last part of Genesis, following the story and emotions of Joseph as he is constantly faced with trials and suffering that isn't his fault.
We centered each week around a particular emotion Joseph felt at a specific time in his story and sought to connect that to the kids' lives and the Gospel.
Many students can identify with feelings of being abandoned and hurt by people that were supposed to love them. They deal with being abandoned by those supposed to care for them. They are misunderstood by those who should listen to them and judged wrongly by others when they genuinely try to do things right. The bracelets they wore, and then gave up to put on the tunic, was a way for them to give up to God the things they were struggling with.
Wrapping up the series, we discussed the fact that though there were people who did very wrong things to Joseph, his brothers selling him into slavery and his master Potiphar throwing him in jail, God was always there, working behind the scenes in ways that he couldn't conceive of or comprehend at the time, to accomplish His perfect will.
For the kids we serve, it isn't their broken families, abuses they've suffered, or poverty and difficulties that they live through that has them in this place. It is a God who loves them deeply and has a plan for their lives, choosing this for them because He knows it will bring about His purpose.
Even knowing this, the hardships we face aren't easy, and they often hurt, but we can trust in a God who demonstrated that just as He never abandoned Joseph, He will never abandon us.
It's been fantastic to see the impact on students' lives as they were given a voice and words to express their feelings.
It provided a great avenue to talk about specific issues that we know directly affect our students.
Joseph's coat represents every one of our students, what they have been through, and the feelings they've struggled with. Yet it is also a reminder of God, who is faithful, always in control, and who will care for us, just as He did for Joseph.
Each string on that coat represents a student and a soul. That string has traveled with each kid to their homes. It serves as a reminder of the prayers of that student and what they have been through. It is a reflection of their broken hearts.
Hearts that hopefully, through this series, have taken one step closer to understanding that they are deeply loved and that even when they are on a throne, in jail, or at the bottom of a well, they are never alone.
Reactions From Our Students
J. Female-15: Through this series I am learning to forgive just like we learned that Joseph did. He didn’t like to hold a grudge towards his brothers even though they sold him as a slave. Forgiving is good because Jesus invites us to forgive others just as he forgave us. I learned that God sent me to this world for a purpose, even though I sometimes wonder why did he send me if I’m not good for anything? He loves us very much and He wants us to follow his commandments, to look for Him and to teach others about Him, just like it says in Mark 16:15 to go into all the world and preach the Gospel.
M. Female-15: In the series about Joseph there were a lot of topics in which I could identify myself with, for example ‘hated, imprisoned and enslaved’. Hate towards myself, being imprisoned by my thoughts and feeling enslaved by my actions. I know I’m not perfect but I try to do good, even though I’m tired. I sometimes find it hard to understand myself, but I have learned it’s okay not to be okay. Throughout many years I have repressed my thoughts and feelings so that no one can know what I’m going through. The more I repress myself and my emotions, the more I hurt myself. It’s okay to cry, I can cry. Even if I haven’t healed completely, I feel better now. The series on Joseph has helped me a lot.
E. Male-14: Today I want to put myself in the position to forgive. I feel that in my heart I should forgive and to leave everything that happened between and someone who hurt me behind. If they ever need anything from me than I will gladly be there to help. I have freed myself from the hate I harbored towards them. Thank you God for helping me get there. Thank you for helping me understand that if I want to be forgiven, then I need to forgive as well.
God has a reason for placing our students with their specific families, in their particular community with challenges all around them. We don't know what trajectory the lives of our students will take, but I can tell you one thing with certainty.
Each one of them is called to God. Chosen for redemption and restoration, to be adopted into God's family and commissioned to go out bringing the light and hope of the Gospel, as missionaries and ambassadors of the Kingdom of God, into the communities in which God has placed them.
We at Cadaniño consider ourselves blessed to be a part of it.