Tomorrow I preach the funeral of one of the most loved students at our church. She was one of the sweetest young ladies I ever knew, and it was a privilege and honor to be her youth pastor for many years. Preaching her funeral is not something I’ve ever thought once of doing since the moment I met her. I certainly didn’t think it would be this soon. This is definitely the hardest thing that I’ve had to deal with as a minister. Below is my tribute to this wonderful young lady, who I loved very much.
“It takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, and a day to love them, but it takes an entire lifetime to forget them.”—Anonymous
Without a doubt, as our lives go on, you and I will never forget Theresa Hughes. We’ll always remember her and all the times she made us laugh, all the times she made us cry, all the times we had fun with her, all the hard times she helped us get through.
If you ever met her, I can guarantee you that you have positive memories with her. She was just an overall great-spirited person to be around. Never once did I ever hear an ill word utter from her lips. She was a bright, and always smiling young lady who made a lasting and positive impact on everybody who knew her.
That’s just the kind of person she was. You can’t say that about everybody, but you can sure say it about Theresa. She was friends with everybody in our youth group, and if she wasn’t your friend, it was just because you weren’t introduced to her!
I was her youth pastor for several years (since 2012), and because of this I have many wonderful memories with her. When I first came to Ohio Valley, she was one of the first persons I was introduced to. I knew from the day I met her that there was something special about her.
I could talk all day long about so many good memories and experiences that I had with her, but I’ll just highlight a few that stand out the most to me. I’ll never forget this one time she smashed a plate full of shaving cream right into my face. Yes, as a youth pastor, you have those type of experiences. Moral of the story: teenagers cannot be trusted with shaving cream.
We had an outdoor event, and I had just recently been hired by Ohio Valley to be their youth minister. I was rubbing elbows with all the students they had, getting to know them and their stories. And I was only briefly introduced to Theresa a few times, but I recall sitting down in a lawn chair and it got real quiet. I also didn’t see any of the other students around, and the next thing I know: SQQUIISSHH! I had a face (and mouth) full of shaving cream, and the culprit standing behind me was Theresa. Next thing you know, everyone is wiping shaving cream on everybody! (pictured above)
I’ll never forget all the times she sat in our Sunday school class and asked questions about the Bible. I’ll never forget all the discussions we had about the Bible on Wednesday nights with our youth. I’ll never forget about all the volleyball and kickball we played during VBS together. I’ll never forget about all the events she went to with our group, and how she fit right in with everybody.
But I thank God for the memory of her that is pressed in my mind. There’ll be times when you and I are at work, while we’re at school, while we’re in bed, or while we’re outside that we will remember Theresa and the good times we had with her and our hearts will be warmed by those wonderful memories.
Praise God for Theresa, and praise God for allowing us to know her, befriend her and love her these 18 years she was allotted to be with us on this earth. She was truly someone we will always remember, and someone we will always love and cherish.