It’s so easy for us to get caught up in the fine details of a daily work routine. As a Pure Freedom educator, my tasks often look like this: make copies, staple packets, practice lessons, drive an hour away, and talk to middle and high school students about healthy relationships, the human body, and why sex is worth waiting for marriage. When you’re used to doing this on a regular basis, the purpose can get lost in the midst of anxiety, self-consciousness, and the endless checklist of duties that must be taken care of in order for the job to be effective. If I am not careful, I could start to work as if this job is about me. I may start to believe that because of my inability to finish every task 100% perfectly, my message won’t come across like I want it to and fewer teens will accept God’s truth about relationships. I think I can speak for a lot of folks when I say that we need to stop, listen, and remember. Remember the God we serve; the God Who decided He would give these jobs to us, the God Who provides everything necessary for meaningful work, and that He Himself is the meaning behind that work.
As part of Lifeline’s 20th Anniversary, I interviewed the Pure Freedom educators who came before me in hopes of creating a nice History of Pure Freedom blog post. However, the inspiration and lessons I’ve gleaned just from emailing back and forth with these incredible women has provided so much more than just good historical data; they’ve rejuvenated my passion for this job and given me a hope that’s worth passing on.. This hope warrants more than one blog post, so look out for The History of Pure Freedom, Pt. 2 next month.
Leslie (Bosslet) Kuehner (pictured above) joined the Lifeline team as Abstinence Education Coordinator for the 2013-2014 school year upon graduating from Truman State University. She spent her time at Truman State University involved in Students For Life, and noticed that God had been stirring a passion for pregnancy help ministry in her heart. Wanting to get more involved at Lifeline, Leslie went to a volunteer training and fell in love with the mission. Later, the Abstinence Education Coordinator position opened up, and Breanne offered it to Leslie. “At the time, these weren't ‘my plans’” she says, “but the Holy Spirit worked His way, and I took it. I'm so glad I did!”
What Leslie found in the classes she taught was a thirst for real, honest love. ”I saw a great need for the truth about authentic love,” she says. “The students were hearing the lies of our mainstream culture about a shallow view of sexuality and a false idea of freedom. I saw a need for a perspective that promotes sexual integrity in the holistic view that Pure Freedom presented. Many students (and some parents) heard the word ‘abstinence’ and immediately thought we'd be talking about how ‘bad’ sex is. I think they were surprised to hear that we were sharing the good news that sex is awesome in the right context.”
The Lord knew Leslie’s heart, and chose to use her to quench that thirst for truth. This job may not have been a part of her plans, but He ensured she’d get there. She affirms the power of His guidance in that “He taught me to be more courageous and trusting than I ever had to be. A Pure Freedom educator is walking into a classroom full of teens who've never met us before and proposing a totally counter-cultural view of sex! How can we share that message without trust in the Holy Spirit?” Amen to that. Without His power, there would be no Pure Freedom at all. But with Him, truth wins.
Leslie took her experience with Lifeline with her on the next leg of her journey. She told me about her new job at a pregnancy help clinic in Kansas City, KS. “We’re bustling with clients and about 1 in 5 (sometimes more) are abortion-minded. We are a relatively new clinic and my director loves to hear about what I observed at Lifeline in order to better run our organization.” It’s amazing to see how Lifeline is one part of the grand mission of abundant life for all, and that God uses our clinic in little Kirksville to encourage the work of our brothers and sisters across state lines. He reminds me in this that my copy-staple-drive-teach routine is in no way just about me; my work is one gear among many that together turn the world toward truth.
Sarah Melton (pictured above) succeeded Leslie as the 2014-2015 Abstinence Education Coordinator. Likewise, she knew that this is where God wanted her. “Once I heard what the job entailed I knew in my spirit that God was calling me to that position!” she explains. “I had such a heart to work for Lifeline and with the teens in the schools. I couldn't think of a better way to spend my time in Kirksville while my husband finished up his years at ATSU.” Her passion for encouraging youth prepared her well for the needs that she found. “They needed a positive role model to be honest and very real with them,” she says. “They wanted to hear about your past mistakes, your triumphs, and they wanted to hear that you genuinely cared about them.” Even with a directly truth-edifying program like Pure Freedom, sometimes the most important part of any job that involves young people is simply being there. Yes, the lessons contain vital truth and the handouts and activities we prepare are excellent vessels for life-changing knowledge, but at the end of the day, students need a real-life example of steadfast love.
As Pure Freedom educators, sometimes we get a glimpse at the influence our time in the schools has had on the students, as Sarah can testify. “The best part of working with Pure Freedom was seeing the fruit of my labor at the end of the program when I could sit down in my office and read the positive survey comments the students and teachers left. When I read that a student gained knowledge and confidence in how to conduct their relationships in a safer more positive way, that made all the tough moments worth it.” But even when we don’t get evidence from the students, God Himself makes it clear that He wants this message relayed. “I saw God open up doors for Pure Freedom to come into new schools. I felt like we had favor with all the principals and teachers we worked with,” Sarah verifies. “I saw the Pure Freedom message penetrate some of the teens hearts. You could see it on their faces at times! I believe God used the program not only as a way to allow me to educate the teens about healthy choices but also as a chance to demonstrate unconditional, non judgmental love to them while building a relationship with them.”
Anyone who has held this position will tell you the same thing: this job is too big for us. There’s no way we can do it on our own. But here’s the thing: we’re never alone. Not once has a Pure Freedom educator walked into a classroom by herself. Not once has she ever driven miles away on her own. Not once has she answered the hardest questions, fought darkness, and proclaimed truth on her own. Only by the Holy Spirit have thousands of teens across Northeast Missouri seen what real love looks like.
This is where Pure Freedom has been. Stay tuned to find out where it is now in The History of Pure Freedom, Pt. 2!
By Kath Farmer