This week we hear from James Cox! James is what we affectionately refer to as a "lifer" here at SDBC. He was born and raised at SDBC and is now on staff! James is an awesome part of our team and his love and passion for the youth is very evident in his life and ministry!
What is your role at SDBC and how long have you worked here?
I am the youth intern here at SDBC! I have been an intern for five and a half years, with my role and responsibilities changing over the years. For the past year, specifically, I have been given the opportunity to lead both the Gap (grades 8-12) and Gap Jr. (grades 5-7) ministries.
What is something about you that people in the church might be surprised to discover?
Before planning on going into ministry, I went to Kwantlen for their drafting program. I studied there for a year with the dream of one day being an architect but then felt the call into ministry.
What are some of the things you love most about being part of the SDBC community/family?
I have been a part of this church my entire life, and love everything about our community here at SDBC. People in our congregation are so generous and supportive of each other. My wife, Lauren, and I really experienced this love and commitment of the church community when we were sick with COVID in September and received constant prayer and support.
How has your role shifted and changed since the start of COVID-19?
Leading youth ministry through the pandemic has certainly been interesting! As of March last year, I began working from home and all activity had to transition online through Zoom meetings, social media presence, and intentional connection from leaders and students. Throughout the spring, I worked through a Q&A sermon series with pre-recorded messages and live Zoom sessions to reach out to our youth and answer their questions on faith and life. When slight changes were made to restrictions in the summer, I was able to move our Gap program to in-person events. We got together two nights a week in order to engage our high-school-aged youth as much as we could while restrictions allowed. At that time, I continued to engage the Gap Jr. ministry through our online format. By the fall, I was able to launch in-person gatherings for both Gap and Gap Jr. which was a huge blessing to the group. However, since November, we have been back online and will continue to engage this way until it is safe for us to gather together again.
What are some of the challenges and triumphs you have encountered in your life and work since the beginning of COVID-19?
My wife, Lauren, and I have had quite an eventful time since the beginning of COVID-19. The restrictions and safety concerns caused us to re-plan most of our wedding and guest list. We had to work through Lauren's changes to her school schedule as clinical work and exams were shifted to account for the virus. During her nursing clinical, she was exposed to COVID-19 and, unfortunately, both of us then caught it and had to quarantine for nearly a month at the beginning of fall. This was a challenge for leading youth ministry, but through the grace of God, Bowen and Hannah Bakken chose to volunteer above and beyond in order to lead the youth group on Sunday nights while Lauren and I recovered. Through this time, all our youth leaders did an amazing job, each taking on extra responsibilities and putting in the effort to continue engaging with our youth.
For me, personally, all of my schooling has been online for a few semesters, which has meant adjustments and extra discipline to continue excelling in school. I am very extroverted, so having all my work, school, and personal connection moved online for so long has been challenging. However, I am thankful even in this season of COVID-19 as it has truly shown me the goodness of God in the midst of challenges and how he will always provide for us.
How can we pray for you in this season of life?
Through this season of life, I would appreciate prayer for our youth. Please pray that they would continue to engage and not suffer from "Zoom fatigue" as we continue meeting online. I also ask that you pray for those not regularly attending our online meetings, that they would not lose motivation and would continue to connect with those in our group when they need community. Also pray for the health and safety of this community as we wait in anticipation for the day we can meet in person again!
Click here to email encouragement to James.