The call David Meadows II felt at 16 to minister to his peers has matured with him, and on June 3, because of a 7-year effort and support from his church, family, friends and local youth, he was able to cut the ribbon to a new youth building at Monroe Bay Assembly of God Church.
Meadows works full-time in maintenance at the National Park Service’s Sunken Road Visitor’s Center in Fredericksburg while maintaining his volunteer avocation to provide local youth with a place they can call their own, regardless of their church affiliation.
Meadows and fellow teen minister Ryon Peyton began the GIFT (God is Forever True) Ministry in 2005 at the Monroe Bay church that was organized in 1975. They held weekly prayer, song and fellowship meetings that drew 15-20 young people, and kept the group for 12- to 18-year-olds going and growing. Since that time, both graduated from high school, Meadows married the former Jamie Lyles, who has been part of GIFT since it began, and Peyton went on to pursue intercessory missionary work, now serving fulltime with the Fredericksburg Prayer Furnace. As Peyton followed his own path, Joshua Morawe, who had also been a GIFT regular, stepped in to offer his assistance to Meadows, and take Peyton’s place in their musical group. Morawe, said he, too, felt God reach out to him when he was just 16. Some 20 to 30 youth now attend the weekly meetings.
The old garage on the church property became the focus of raising funds to spruce it up and double its size. The years of yard sales, pizza sales, car washes, donut and candy sales, and asking people to donate any spare pocket change provided nearly $20,000 bit-by-bit for the expansion and renovation that includes a moveable stage, sound equipment, a foosball table, a TV, X-box, and movies.
While they went from serving a meal at the weekly meetings to just snacks to help the renovation fund efforts, one thing they never let go was their monthly donation to a child the group sponsors in Uganda.
During the June 3 dedication service, Pastor Lee Maxey reminded attendees that, “we’re not honoring the building or the building of the building, or even all the hard work that went into it. We’re honoring service to God, one of the greatest opportunities we have on earth.”
As Meadows took over the service, he seconded Maxey’s comments saying, “I can’t take credit for GIFT Ministries—Ryon can’t, Joshua can’t, anyone who’s been involved can’t. It’s all for the glory of God,” but later in the service, he did recognize the many people who helped with meals, youth trips, fundraising, finances, supplies and labor to renovate the garage with special thanks to Pastor Maxey, Linda and Jim Lyles, Jamie and Karen Peyton, the Morawe family, and his parents, Gina and Davie Meadows.
He asked people to picture a stack of papers that can tend to get spread out and disorganized. “We try to lead teens in a very chaotic time of their lives, to try to help them organize their stack of papers.
“Think of yourself as the papers, and God as the staple that can hold them together,” he suggested. “A staple hooks and bends and holds it all together. It won’t come out unless you take it out, just like God will always stick with you.”
Although opening the youth center was a milestone, the future beckons. “We devoted years to the building, and our focus can now shift to see how we can touch, help and be a light to the community,” said Meadows. Fundraising will continue, too, “and one day, we hope to be able to build a gymnasium on part of our 8 to 9 acres, so kids have a place to come,” added Maxey.