Caro/Akron-Fairgrove Campus Life
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Jennifer Tebedo, but most people just call me Jen. I haven’t always been a Tebedo, so some of you might recognize me as Jennifer Anderson. I married my husband, Andrew, back in 2015, but I am getting ahead of myself…let me back up.
I was originally born in Muskegon, Michigan, but grew up in Vassar, learning to call the Thumb area home. My family ended up in Vassar through a job transfer for my dad. While we came to love Vassar and the whole Thumb area, my dad ended up getting transferred yet again for work when I was around the age of 15. At this point and time in my life, my brother and I were old enough that my mom wanted us to be able to finish high school before moving us out of the state, so we stuck around Tuscola County. Around age 16, I really started to feel the heartache of the distance between my family here and my dad in Ohio. I felt alone, lost, and confused with the whole situation.
It was at that time that I had a friend invite me to youth group. Now, for someone who had never really been in a church before, you can imagine the thoughts running through my head. What is youth group? Who goes to this thing? What do you do there? Do I have to dress or act a certain way? Will I fit in? Do I have to know what the Bible is talking about? These are questions that teens who have never heard of Jesus face on a daily basis. Well, let me tell you friends…that moment changed my life.
The summer going into my Junior year of high school, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and asked Him to be a part my life. My senior year, I got baptized as an open confession of my faith in front of my church family at the First Baptist Church of Vassar. Things were still hard not being able to see my dad very often, but since letting Jesus into my heart something had changed in me. I had faith that things would be okay; that God was on my side and would see me through any storm.
Shortly after graduating high school in 2011, I met my now husband, Andrew. I spent a year away from home at Spring Arbor University where I studied Social Work, and then transferred to Saginaw Valley State University where I switched my studies to Sociology with Religious Studies as a minor. In 2015, Andrew and I got married. I always had a dream of working with the youth, so when I graduated in 2016, I had to figure out what that looked like. At the time, my dream job was to work with abused and neglected kids. After getting a job right out of college in the foster system, followed by a job in an abused and neglected home setting, I realized God had something else in store for me. What that was, I had no idea, until Andrew and I decided to take a leap of faith.
When I realized that the abused/neglected system wasn’t for me, I faced a time of hardship. Because this had been my dream for so long, I asked, “Why did I go to school for this? Why did I go down this path and cause my husband and I to move for this job? What am I going to do now?” Well, we prayed…and I mean A LOT! Finally, we decided I would quit my full-time job and just work part-time for a friend until I could find something that was more up my alley. During this time Andrew and I had also been in between churches, trying to find a new place to call our church home. Not knowing what God had in store, all we could do was trust Him. As God would have it, the friend I was temporarily working for invited us to a church in Caro that he and his wife had been attending, Colwood United Brethren Church.
A few months later, I got a job as the Administrative Assistant at Colwood. It was an amazing job with amazing people, and I finally knew what it was God had been calling me to do all these years. He wanted me to help the youth in a ministry setting, leading teens to Jesus, just as I had been when I was a teenager. Shortly after starting my job at Colwood, I started helping out with the youth group called ONEighty and found my passion re-ignited. This was my AH HA moment! I can’t help but laugh when I look back at how God led me up to this point. He really works in amazing ways and in His timing, not ours.
A year later, I was getting a call from Youth For Christ, hearing about this amazing job opportunity to work with the youth in the Caro/Akron-Fairgrove communities full-time! So here I am, excited to see how God is going to work through me now. Every chapter in my life has led me to this point, and I am grateful to have taken every step that I did to get here. I’m still learning new things every day, and I hope I can share a little bit of what I’ve learned with upcoming generations.
As my husband and I walk together on this new journey, we ask and pray that you would pray with us; pray for the financial support needed as a local missionary, for the volunteers needed to work in the program, that God would be working in both our lives, and the teens lives in the Caro and Akron-Fairgrove communities. May He give us wisdom, guidance, and the right words to say, to these students who are at all different points in their lives. We ask that He would give us the ability to walk beside these teens and help encourage them down the path that leads to Christ.