Linde Thompson and Ashley Dillon have seen the girls in their Watermark Student Ministries small group blossom over the last seven years. Once a rambunctious group of giggly 6th grade girls, these confident, high school seniors are now ready to impact their world for Christ. Linde and Ashley explain how God used this special group of young women to encourage and shape their lives.
How did God use your high school and young adult years to prepare you to lead a small group of students at Watermark?
Ashley: Although I grew up in a Christian home, I didn’t make faith my own until I was in my 20s. During high school, my Young Life leader invested in me spiritually and has continued to make a big impact on my life. In college, I fell away from walking with the Lord. I looked to the party scene and subsequently my career in Los Angeles for my identity. While I was in L.A., God used a small group of believers to draw me back to Him, and I fell in love with the Lord.
After I came back to Dallas, I was connected with Watermark and Student Ministries. I found out that Linde needed a co-leader for a group of girls who were in sixth grade at the time. Since then, I’ve walked through life with these girls for seven years. I feel like God has used these girls to help redeem my past mistakes. I’m able to tell our girls what to watch out for, and how important biblical community is to your walk with Christ.
Linde: I grew up with believing parents right here in Dallas. In high school, I had Christian leaders who poured into me, and that was very important. My faith grew stronger in college at Texas A&M. After college, I started serving at Watermark, so I’ve known many of these girls since they were in first grade. God used the study of His Word at Women’s Bible Study and my early years to give me wisdom as we lead in Student Ministries.
I’ve struggled with self-righteousness and extending grace to others. Through leading a small group and in community with other godly friends, God has helped me see my sin. I experienced accountability in community, and that led to spiritual growth. Showing the girls how much true, authentic community has impacted me has helped them see how God can use community in their own lives.
How did God use your service to these girls to change or inspire you?
Ashley: Leading a small group was a weekly spiritual check- point for me. The girls needed someone who was living out God’s Word. So I had to be in a good place with the Lord in order for them to want to follow. For some of the girls in private Christian school, they thought of Bible Study as a class or schoolwork. We encouraged them that time in God’s Word and living in community were more than just checking a box.
Linde: Our job was to model what it was like to live each day with Christ at the center of it. Of course we studied Scripture, but what about application? We talked about how we were doing in living out God’s Word each day. As the girls got older, it was inspiring to see them share the gospel, teach Bible studies or reach out to others and invite them to join us. Even when the girls had struggles, we could see the Lord working.
What do you know about God’s character that you wouldn’t have known without this experience?
Ashley: I’ve seen God’s faithfulness as He has provided a way for the girls to resist temptations in high school. The Lord provided godly friends who held the girls accountable. Seeing the Lord’s love for them has encouraged my heart.
Linde: I think it’s easy to believe that teenagers will follow their own path. But the Lord used Watermark Student Ministries to challenge the girls to be all that God has created them to be. To see His faithfulness lived out in our girls is amazing to watch. In temptation and hard times, God was present and helped them maintain faithfulness.
How do you feel about your high school small group ending after so many years together?
Linde: It’s sad, but I don’t have any apprehension about college for them. The girls are ready, and it’s clear that God will use them on college campuses in significant ways.
Ashley: I can’t imagine what it will be like when my daughter leaves for college. I feel like these are my girls, and I will miss them. Linde and I plan to be part of their lives for as long as we can. I want to be a sounding board whenever they need one. This definitely is not good-bye.
Interested in equipping the next generation of Christ followers by serving in Student Ministries? Contact Anne Marie Mason at AMason@watermark.org to find out more.