Shannon Poarch assumed the duties of youth director at First United Methodist Church (FUMC) of Waxahachie on June 3. Sitting in her new office, Poarch described how surreal it was to be in the position of youth director, and the challenges she faced to get to this point in her life.

“My being here is definitely a God thing,” Poarch said with a huge smile on her face. “I’m very passionate about the ministry and taking the young people of this church to new levels.”

She said her main focus is to encourage the young people to strengthen their walk with God. With that being her obvious goal, Poarch highlighted several other objectives she is hoping the youth of her church will experience.

“Other than seeing them go deeper in the Lord, my main thing is to build relationships of trust,” Poarch said. “A lot of the kids who attend here come from different backgrounds and may not have common interest. I want to bridge that gap between the kids in our group.”

Poarch continued by saying she also plans to build relationships with the young people by going where they are.

“Often times, kids just want to know someone is going to be there for them,” she said. “I want every kid in this group, and those that visit, to know I’m here to support and encourage them in what they do.”

Poarch said if that means going to a football game, band competition, a gathering at the park or sitting around eating pizza, she is willing to do that. She said she wants to be involved in their extra-curricular activities as much as she possibly can.

Poarch added she has already been blessed to do something like that for one of her youth. One of the young people who attends her youth group got his first job at Chick-fil-A. He began last Saturday, and Poarch said she and several others went to eat breakfast there to show their support.

“I want all the kids to know that I’ll be their cheerleader,” Poarch said with excitement. “Who doesn’t want someone in their corner cheering them on?”

Poarch said one of the things that thrills her is the fact the youth already have servant’s hearts. But she said she wants to help them grow in reaching out more to their community.

“They have a great heart of service,” she said. “However, there is still a lot more that we can do. We have homeless people in our city that need our attention. There are tons of things we can be a part of.”

She added that she wants the youth to continue to have that heart for service, and that she will do whatever it takes to continue to feed their passion.

Poarch went on to say that if someone had told her when she was younger that she would be a youth leader, she would have laughed them out of town.

“My father was raised in the baptist denomination, and my mother was raised Assemblies of God,” she said. “But because of life’s circumstances, they fell away. My mother said she was forced to go to church, and promised herself that she wouldn’t do that to us.”

Poarch continued by saying there was a church that would send a van to pick up children in  her neighborhood, but she wasn’t allowed to go at first.

“For years, this church van would come through to pick up kids,” she said. “I would ask my mom to let me go, and she always came up with some kind of excuse. But when my older brother started going, then she let me go with him.”

She said that she enjoyed going to church, but still didn’t become heavily involved until her aunt and uncle were married.

“My aunt and uncle got married in an Assemblies of God church,” Poarch said. “I began to attend their church, and that’s when my life changed.”

Poarch said that’s when she felt impressed to attend Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU). However, she said it was a struggle financially, and again she saw God come to her rescue.

“I had finally decided on what I wanted to do with my life,” she said. “I chose to attend SAGU, and major in church ministries. I had a deep desire to do this, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for it.”

Poarch said she discussed the situation with several people in her church. One lady overheard the conversation, and took it upon herself to do something about it.

“This lady found out about what I was going through, and told her brother,” she said. “The gentleman came to me, and told me that he would pay my tuition all four years.”

She said it took her by surprise because the agreement was in form of a handshake.

“Nobody makes agreements like that anymore,” she said. “The whole thing took my by surprise.”

After they had made the arrangement, the gentleman passed away a few months later. But the agreement was honored, and Poarch was able to receive her degree from SAGU. She said her life has been one big adventure, and she is looking forward to her future as the youth leader at FUMC.

Follow Melissa on Facebook.com/MelissaCadeWDL. Contact Melissa at 469-517-1450 or melissa.cade@wninews.com.