“Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently before Him.” (Psalm 37:7a)
On one of my trips to Moloka’i, Hawaii, with the Laguna Presbyterian Church youth group mission trip, I met a couple of students who told me they were brothers. They looked nothing alike. I asked which was older. The taller boy said, “I am… by 5 months.” I saw what was going on; I wasn’t born yesterday. I was the guest speaker on this trip, and these boys were pulling my leg; they were treating me much the same way I treated substitute teachers when I was in high school. I rolled my eyes and said, “Yeah, right.”
My friend, Steve (the youth pastor at Laguna PC), walked over and said, “It’s true! They’re brothers.” I retorted, “Yes, we’re all brothers and sisters in Christ.” Steve laughed, “Yes, that too. But they’re actual brothers!” I figured they must be step or half siblings, or perhaps one was, or both were adopted, but Steve assured me they were full blooded brothers. I asked, “How can that be?”
Apparently, their parents were having trouble conceiving, so the wife’s sister offered to be a surrogate. The older boy was conceived in a fertility clinic and then the sister carried the baby. So, he was fully their son. Once the pressure was taken off the husband and wife, they conceived on their own within a matter of months. I was reminded that my former neighbors had had trouble as well and they finally chose to adopt. Within a year of the adoption, they conceived and had twins. It’s funny when the pressure is off, everyone relaxes, and things happen.
Even though the Bible tells us to “be anxious for nothing” and reminds us to “wait patiently on the Lord,” we are a worrying bunch, aren’t we?
A couple years ago, Xander Montes resigned after a great tenure as our youth director. We contacted local colleges, universities and seminaries, talked to other churches, posted on job boards, and used word-of-mouth. In the end of 2020, we hired Nancy Galeana as a short-term interim, which ended rather quickly. Of course, the COVID stay-at-home quarantine made ministry hard, and made youth ministry especially hard.
We went months without a Youth Director. On October 3, 2021, we celebrated World Communion. At the International Potluck following the service, I interviewed several first-generation immigrants in our fellowship. Oke Lin was one of the people I interviewed. She mentioned one of the reasons they had initially been attracted to FPCSA was the strong youth ministry. This comment reminded me of our need and I remarked that we really needed to fill the Director of Youth Ministry position in order to keep our young people engaged and growing in their faith.
After the potluck, Scott Overpeck offered to serve as interim DYM. He was pretty firm that this was just on an interim basis, for a couple of reasons: 1) he is pretty busy with his own work; and, 2) his two sons are both in the youth program. And so, Scott began as interim DYM in the middle of November 2021.
I received an email in the end of January saying she had seen the youth ministry posting on the Presbytery website and asked if the position was still available. I laughed because I had recently asked someone, “Do you really think anyone ever even looks at the job posts of the Presbytery website?”
Donnette Alexander-Jeffers is a member of New Hope Presbyterian Church. She has a bachelors and a masters from Chapman University, the latter in education. She also completed one year of study for a PhD in education. Donnette has taught at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana and Whittier Christian High School in La Habra.
Currently, she is a seminary student at Fuller Theological Seminary seeking an MDiv, and is under care as an inquirer of our Presbytery looking into ordination as a minister of the word and sacrament in the PCUSA. Donnette lives with her husband, Ian, and their 5-year-old daughter in Orange. Ian works for the Starbucks at the corner of Bristol and Memory Lane; if you’ve ever been to that store, Donnette says you can’t miss him. And since New Hope PC meets on Saturday nights, she will be able to continue to worship and serve there as an ordained deacon and on the worship committee.
Donnette met with the personnel committee on February 13th and they unanimously voted to hire her as our new Director of Youth Ministry. She’ll begin on March 1st. We’ll welcome her in the worship service on the first Sunday of March and then on the 2nd Sunday in March, we’ll have a parent/student meet & greet with her after the worship service.
The stories of the people having trouble conceiving came to mind this past week. Just like them, we were anxious. We’ve been stressing about filling the youth position. And we were so grateful for Scott stepping up to help with the youth ministry. That eased our stress. And in His perfect timing, God brought Donnette to us. Now, we recognize she’s not the Messiah and she’s not perfect. She’ll connect with some students better than others. We also know that all staff positions are temporary. But we’re glad to have her join our staff at this time.
Please give a word of thanks to Scott. He has two sons in the program, so he’ll stay connected, of course. Please pray for Donnette. When you see her, introduce yourself and welcome her to FPCSA. She is a delight! Please also pray for our young people. Changes are hard for them, too. And continue to pray for our church. We pray God’s leading in the days ahead.
I remain yours in Christ’s Love and Service,