Charran James and Tara Pipes have served together for nine years with Watermark Students. As their small group of girls is nearing high school graduation, Charran and Tara reflected back on what God has taught them through this season of leadership and friendship together.
How did you get involved in Watermark Students?
CHARRAN: “At the same time I was grieving the death of my dad, I went on a discipleship trip with Watermark about 10 years ago. The process leading up to the trip and the trip itself helped me learn during my season of grief how much I was focused on myself. Stepping back, I realized I needed to serve others. A friend leading in Students suggested I serve with Watermark’s ministry for students in fourth and fifth grade. That is when I met Tara.”
TARA: “I knew I wanted to serve in youth ministry since I was in high school because I was positively impacted by leaders in my life. While becoming a Member at Watermark, I felt called to serve students. I loved it, and by the end of our group’s fifth grade, we grew really close to the girls. It was so natural to continue meeting with them through their middle and high school years in Wake and Shoreline.”
How have you seen God’s faithfulness in the time with your students?
CHARRAN: “It’s easy to grow weary in a commitment that involves such high expectations like time and relationships. One of the girls dropped out of the small group after sixth grade, and she didn’t come back until her junior year. When she came back after that long season, it changed our group for the better. She was openly confessing sin and struggles and completely modeled transparency and authenticity for the other girls. God’s faithfulness and perfect timing reenergized our group. Galatians 6:9 was a really good reminder in that situation, ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’”
TARA: “God showed us clearly how He loves and pursues every one of us. It wasn’t about a huge attendance number but about being faithful to love and encourage the girls. He showed me the truth of 1 Corinthians 3:6-7. I am called to be faithful, but it is the Lord who changes hearts in His timing. Watching the Lord work in and through the lives of our girls has really opened my eyes to the truth of this verse. The spiritual maturity and growth in our girls weren’t anything I could have imagined and were not based on anything I did.”
How has this commitment to serving impacted your life?
CHARRAN: “This experience has really kept me committed to living out my faith through discipleship. It is a picture of God’s kindness to me in this season of life. He knows what we need when we need it. I had no clue this friendship and group would grow to become a source of many blessings in my season of singleness. While I would love to be married and have children at this point in life, God has been faithful to remind me with this area of service that I’m not forgotten, and my singleness is a gift.”
TARA: “I am a more faithful Christ follower, a better leader, and a better parent. I’m reminded weekly how important it is to spend daily time with God. This commitment has grown my trust in the Lord through the faithfulness of these young girls and my fellow leaders. Whether I walk in the door energized or exhausted from chasing my toddlers, our small group is always encouraging. Watching God work in the lives of the girls encourages me every week.”
What would you tell someone who is interested in serving with Students?
CHARRAN: “I want other singles to know that this season can have purpose, too – even when you wished it looked differently. If discipleship is a command to all believers, this is a great way to spend your time. It’s another level of accountability to live out your faith, even for us as leaders. You’re able to feel connected and known and be a part of someone else’s journey.”
TARA: “In the same way I want to spend time with friends and family, I want to spend time with these girls. I truly care about them, and it is a joy to share my life with them and encourage them to live their lives fully devoted to God. Watermark Students makes this blessing even more fun by hosting fun events and weekends at camp. You get to see the church in a whole different way!
“Charran and I have truly been a team over the last nine years. God has used our unique personalities and styles of encouragement to strengthen His work in our group. We were more effective together than we would have been on our own.”
Watermark Students is a place where every student is known, accepted, taught about Jesus, and challenged to grow. Find out more about serving with students at watermark.org/servestudents