Kitty: My Faith Heroine

I first met Kitty when I was still in grade school. As the associate pastor at my church, Kitty was stuck running our youth group, a job she didn't like - at least not at first.

Over time, however, we trained her (or maybe she trained us; I'm not altogether sure which). She called us the Park Ridge Brats, a term spoken with much affection. We were, after all, her brats.

I don't remember a single sermon Kitty preached during her four years at our church. I do, however, remember much of what she taught me.

On a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters, Kitty helped me to fall in love with our Creator God.

On mission trips to Wesley Woods, she taught me to serve. On one such trip, I remember Kitty, in a moment of frustration with another youth, saying, “God better help that girl or I'm going to kill her!” As a junior high youth, I saw in that statement a pastor who was also human, someone who, like me, struggled with certain people. Her humanness gave me hope that if she could follow God, maybe I could, too. Decades later, as a youth pastor myself, Kitty's words remind me that we're called to care and pastor even hard-to-love youth.

On a cold night in December, Kitty came to my house – minutes after my Grandma died. Her presence that night, that weekend, and in the long months that followed tangibly and powerfully showed me God's presence, reminding me that in the darkness, we are not alone. He is there.

The day that Kitty announced she'd be leaving our congregation, she wept as she served communion, her tears falling into the communion chalice. She wept because the people she was leaving meant something to her. In her tears, she showed me the beauty and power of relationships.

Years later, when all hell broke lose during my first year in ministry, Kitty was a constant and steadfast presence. She assured me of my calling and reminded me that God was not yet through with me.

Last year, after I suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage, Kitty again shared my grief. Weeks after others stopped mentioning it, Kitty asked, “What do you want me to know?” and invited me to share my story, knowing it mattered.

Just a few months ago, during a frustrating season of ministry, Kitty reminded me of my worth and of how it comes from God – not anything I do or don't do.

Through her words and actions, Kitty has consistently modeled what it means to have consequential faith to me.

That's why Kitty is my faith heroine.

She, more than anyone else, has shaped and molded my faith.

She started doing so more than 20 years ago.

And she continues to do so today.

 50 Women

This blog post is part of Michelle DeRusha’s #MyFaithHeroine contest, in connection with the release of the book 50 Women Every Christian Should Know. Find out how to participate here.

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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