By Paige K Slighter
Echo, our youth ministry for 7th-12th graders, has a team of student leaders who commit themselves to taking on a bigger role in Echo. They are called Echo Catalysts and they serve as role models for the rest of the students. Through sacrificial contributions of time and talent, they model servant leadership, hospitality and commitment to the broader Echo community. They agree to welcome others, participate in discipleship, live out God’s story and ultimately be the body of Christ. Though COVID has put a twist on things, the Catalysts have continued to show up through consistent attendance and participation on Echo’s live stream. As they look back on this year and their time with Echo, they remember what they’ve learned and how much they’ve grown.
What’s your biggest takeaway from your time with Echo?
Sienna: The genuineness of the Echo community. It’s helped me to accept myself and others for who we truly are.
Trevor: Taking the time to listen to others’ stories and reflecting on my own.
Grace: Being able to see and experience firsthand how radical love changes people and the massive impact it has on youth. Echo is such a unique community and I’m so blessed to have been able to experience it as a student and Catalyst, and hopefully as an adult volunteer someday.
Hteemoo: Echo has helped me grow in my identity with Jesus. I can think of the many retreats that remind me of growing in my faith and worshipping with the leaders and students who love Jesus too.
What advice would you give to incoming Echo students?
Trevor: Join a Journey Group right away. That way you have a core group of students who are going through the same experience as you. Even while you have this core group, have a goal to talk to one person you have never had a conversation with every night. Plan on becoming a Catalyst so that when you are able to be on the team you have had time to watch how Catalysts act. That’ll help you form a picture of what type of Catalyst you want to be so you can add your unique piece to Echo. Be intentional with the things you do. Go crazy, have fun, and hopefully find Jesus in the middle of everything.
Ally: Have fun but pay attention. Go to all of the extra events, joke around with your friends, soak in the love around you. You’re there for a reason!
Berke: You get out of it what you put into it. Be honest and open with the people around you because they are amazing, and you will certainly learn a lot from them.
Hteemoo: Gradually grow out of your comfort zone. Be yourself always, but everyone at Echo will love you no matter where you are in life, so it’s okay to try new things and talk to new people.
What are your biggest dreams for the future?
Trevor: I’d like to keep playing baseball until I’m old and withered. Hopefully one of these years I’ll be able to play one at Target field. I want to keep learning and growing in my relationship with God. I suppose I’ll keep following him and see where it goes.
Grace: I’m aiming to be a veterinarian someday and help take care of creation.
Berke: I want to join the competitive programming team at Vanderbilt.
Ally: I’m hoping to graduate with a 4-year degree from the University of Minnesota Morris in either Secondary Education or Statistics.
Hteemoo: My biggest dream is to one day volunteer for UNICEF and work with their medical teams to help others in under-resourced parts of the world.
We want to wish the newly graduated senior Catalysts our heartfelt congratulations, thank them for the impact they’ve made and bless their next steps. Danny, one of Echo’s leaders, has two primary hopes for student Catalysts as they look to the future. 1) That they recognize the incredible influence they have and use it to create Kingdom change in the world, no matter the context they find themselves in. And, 2) that they would continue to find all of their worth, identity and life in Jesus.
Anyone in Echo grades 9-12 can apply to be a student Catalyst. For current and future Catalysts, we pray blessings over you as well and hope you feel encouraged to experience the fullness and richness of the Echo community.
For more information about being an Echo Catalyst, contact Ketura at firstname.lastname@example.org.