Many of the girls in this Watermark small group for high school seniors have known one another since preschool. Led by two young adults, Sarah Sundberg and Emily Bradberry, this small group has grown over the years to include new friends the girls have met at school. Although the girls are different from one another, they share one thing in common: full devotion to Jesus Christ. Each has been transformed by their personal relationship with Christ. This is how God has used their Watermark Shoreline small group to help them follow Christ.
How has God used the young women in this small group to change your life?
AVA GREANEY: “For the first half of high school, I did not have a relationship with Christ. As the stress of high school became more difficult, I turned to self-harm. Then Haven Graybill invited me to join her Watermark small group. These girls immediately accepted me and let me know that I’m not alone. I came to know Christ, and because of the Lord, I do not live with the hopelessness I experienced before. I now read God’s Word, and it’s a daily reminder that I am loved and forgiven.”
PARKER NEWTON: “I grew up going to church a couple of times a year and did not know Christ at all. In high school, I met these girls, and they invited me to Watermark’s Hideaway retreat. Seeing people worship and dive into God’s Word stuck with me, and I wondered how they were able to love others so genuinely. These girls talked to me about faith and asked if I wanted to follow Jesus with all of my heart. When I decided to trust Christ, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I finally had friends I could be genuine with – friends who remind me of Scripture and what it means to follow the Lord.”
How has community with other believers helped you with the difficulties of high school?
HAVEN GRAYBILL: “High school has thrown some real challenges my way, and this group of girls has been an amazing foundation to fall back on. During my sophomore year, I struggled with depression and anxiety. The girls in our group texted me often and asked how they could pray for me during those difficult weeks and months. They pursued me, even on days when I did not want it. That was an amazing reminder of Christ’s love.”
EVE ANDERS: “I didn’t have a good group of friends during the first couple of years of high school. Then, I transferred to Pearce High School, and these girls became my built-in friend group. They have helped me with two of my biggest challenges: resolving conflict and choosing forgiveness. Recently a big conflict flipped my life upside down, but I didn’t want to resolve it and certainly was not interested in forgiveness. I avoid conflict at all costs, and the girls in our group encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone, engage with people who have hurt me, and move toward forgiveness.”
Some of you have taken part in Watermark’s new recovery ministry, RE:GENERATION for Students. How has God used that experience to shape your faith?
EMMA LOKEY: “I went through a season of anxiety, depression, and other sin struggles. I was reluctant to talk to my family and continued to isolate and stuff my feelings. Finally, I shared what was going on with these girls, and they encouraged me to talk to my parents. That was huge.
“They have helped me not return to that dark place. And RE:GENERATION for Students has helped me grieve my sin appropriately so I will not return to it. There is a brighter side to the pain I have endured, and that is knowing that Jesus is at work in my life. That has changed everything, and biblical recovery has helped me understand who I am in Christ.”
As leaders, how have you seen these girls grow? SARAH SUNDBERG: “One of the coolest things is seeing how God uses RE:GENERATION for Students to help the girls work through sin patterns most people don’t address until they are much older. The Lord has softened their hearts as they have learned how to trust the Lord with their sin struggles.”
EMILY BRADBERRY: “I have been a group leader since the girls were freshmen, and the whole group has learned to counsel each other biblically. It’s also a privilege to see God working in their lives individually. For example, I’ve seen Emma decide that her relationship with Christ is greater than being popular. I’ve watched Grace decide that Christ is better than solely focusing on academics. I have seen Eve and Parker rely on the Lord during hard times. All of the girls are ready to follow God as they move to college.”
How will your college experience be different because of this group?
GRACE SEDBERRY: “I have grown up with parents who encourage me in my relationship with Christ, and these girls have also helped me wholeheartedly pursue the Lord. This group has helped set the standard for what I would look for in college friends who love God and would hold me accountable. I pray that I’ll find a similar group of friends at college who encourage me to follow the Lord in everything I do.”
SERVE WITH US If you have a heart for serving teenagers and would like to partner with us in ministry, we always have a place for passionate, committed people. Visit watermark.org/students to find out more.
RE:GENERATION FOR STUDENTS RE:GENERATION for Students is for anyone grades 6-12 who is seeking God’s help with the brokenness in their life. If you’re ready to get well, you are welcome at RE:GENERATION for Students. Visit watermark.org to sign up for our next 10-week class.