coffee shop preaching

The Run-Away Teen

I’m reeling….so much has happened this week that I almost don’t know where to begin.

Every so often I get a call from a friend who wants me to meet with someone they know. Could be a family member or just a friend who is going through a hard time.

(Just to clarify – I’m not a professional counselor, therapist or anything like that. I’m simply someone who loves Jesus and loves people and love it when the two collide)

A while back I got one of those calls.

I instantly knew this one was for me.

I started meeting with a teen who was (to put it lightly) going through a rough patch. We would get together weekly and honestly I would just do a lot of listening.

There were times when I was shocked by what she would tell me, and I would desperately pray under my breath for the right words to say. And, every single time (whether either of us were expecting it or not) before I knew it I would be prophesying over her at Starbucks.

Why she continued to meet with me, I have no idea. Because for a girl who is running from God, you’d think I’d be the last person she’d want to talk to!

Yet, every week she would pursue me. And every week I’d hang with her. After one of our meetings she told her mom I was her new “bestie”.

*Pause. I just have to vent for a second before continuing the story*

That day I had this thought: shouldn’t that always be the response of a hurting person who has an encounter with a Jesus follower?? Shouldn’t they come away feeling like they’ve just met the coolest best-friend ever?!

Man…that’ll preach.

Like way louder than any sermon I could speak behind a pulpit.

I just can’t shake this! WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING WITH MY LIFE?!!!!!

This is why I’ve had to let go of caring what people think of me or how I might be perceived.

(To clarify, It hasn’t been the world that I’m scared of offending; it’s been the church)

When I first started to meet with this girl, a well-meaning pastor’s wife asked me what book I was going to “take her through”.

I was like, “Uh….???”

You see, many people think we have to have an agenda. A five-point message and a clearly defined curriculum to be qualified to walk into a situation like that.

Well, I don’t believe that.

I think the Holy Spirit is all I need.

And, believe me, had I shown up with a book in hand I would have BLOWN IT.

I’ve had to let go of fearing people’s opinions and completely embrace the gospel as it reads in my Bible. Nothing more. Nothing less.

*Whew! Thank you. I feel better. Now we can continue*

And so, there I was hanging with this girl every week in a coffee shop. Non-judgy, totally loving, no agenda – just two people having coffee. One broken and one healed.

The first time we met she told me she didn’t believe in the “Christian thing” anymore. Around the fourth time she told me she was “starting to believe it was something real” And about the 5th or 6th time we got together (I later found out) on her way home she gave her life to God in her car.

Pretty cool.

But, what happened next is something I didn’t expect. Shortly after that meeting, she left home. Like for days and no one knew where she was. She did all kinds of crazy, heartbreaking things.

And, I’ll never forget the tension that week – everyone was afraid. No one knew what damage could have happened. Or if she would return. Everyone was thinking the worst.

For some reason, I wasn’t. I’ll be honest with you, for a while there I was beginning to believe I was insensitive or not caring. It bothered me. WHY didn’t I feel scared for this girl who I genuinely cared about?!?

Over those few days my heart did take a beating though. I heard things like, “she needs a real counselor” or “you’re in over your head” and “she needs a professional”.  Mixed in with those comments was, “But, of course she needs the Jesus stuff too”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of counseling and professional therapists. If you manage to find a good one, I think that’s fantastic. I’ve had my fair share of time in a therapist’s office. I believe they have their place and can be a wonderful benefit to healing and processing.

But, for whatever reason, this girl hadn’t bonded with a counselor. No one had gained her trust other than me. God had put me right in the middle of this and I knew it.

Yet, the thoughts of self-doubt were suffocating:

Why didn’t I see this coming???!!

I’ve completely let her family down…

I AM in WAY over my head!!!

I can’t do this…

I should stop meeting with her….

When she finally resurfaced she asked to meet with me. And, guys, I had NO idea what I was walking into.

People told me she would just tell me what I wanted to hear. They told me I wasn’t qualified to determine if she was lying or not. They said she was just going to turn right around and go back to the lifestyle she was living.

But, something in my spirit was screaming the opposite.

And I decided to listen to it instead. Deep down, I knew that God had given me this job to finish. And, I was determined to see it through.

I walked in without any training but only the belief of John 14:26: The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things…

I said that in my head over and over. At least 50 times.

We met.

We talked.

She stayed with me that whole day.

The next day she came with me to a Bible study at my house that I was hosting (which is a miracle in and of itself). And, I was all prepared to lead us through our study. But, do you want to know how cool God is?! The only people who showed up were three women I have walked through similar journeys as this girl.

I didn’t do our study. Now, I could have and made this girl listen to us discuss scripture all night. But, that wasn’t what she needed. It was quite clear God had a different agenda. Instead, I asked the women to share their stories with her. Stories of pain and how God completely healed and restored their lives.

Those stories made an impact. A LOUD impact. And, more importantly, they laid the groundwork for what I knew I needed to do next.

The next day I hung out with her again.

I did something I knew she hadn’t been ready for until that moment: I confronted her with truth.

And before I knew it, I was drawing diagrams of her life, and unraveling the root of her behavior. And she heard me.

She decided to go to Teen Challenge.

For a year.

To learn about Jesus.

To break her habits.

To find freedom.

She wanted me and her mom to take her.

And, yesterday, we dropped her off.

A picture I took from the backseat on our trip. We were jamming to Britt Nicole when I took this. No faces are shown to protect her identity from any of the crazy fools she is getting away from. And, if you happen to be of those goobers and you are even considering tracking her down, I swear I will compile a team of people who love Jesus but are not afraid to go all gangsta on you if needed. Just giving you fair warning. Ps: Jesus loves you too and if you decided to go ahead with tracking her down, when you get there go ahead and check yourself in too ;)
A picture I took from the backseat on our road trip. We were jamming to Britt Nicole when I took this. No faces are shown to protect her identity from any of the crazy fools she is getting away from. And, if you happen to be of those goobers and you are even considering tracking her down, I swear I will compile a team who loves Jesus but is not afraid to go all gangsta on you if needed. Just giving a fair warning.

When we left her, I felt like I was leaving a piece of me behind….in many ways, I was.

It was an overwhelming feeling that I don’t really have the right words to explain.

Here’s the text messages I sent to a friend on the way home:

I just can’t contain my excitement for her…and how much I love this kid. I’m a wreck. I guess this is just a small taste of how HE feels for us. Man…tapping into that love is a game changer.

As always, I want to hear from you. The more we share, the more we realize we aren’t alone on this massive mission. Go ahead: post, email; do your thing. 


Author. Blogger. Speaker. Momma to 4.


  • Doug Dimmel

    I honor your investment of time! I typically avoid getting too deep with people because I know it could turn into hours, days, weeks, even years to see a breakthrough. The scary thing is you may be on target with how the Lord was leading but the teen may continue to make poor choices. A young teen I was ministering to was going on and on about how brilliant his professors were and they all smoked pot daily. My response was “A wise man wins souls.” I admire your wisdom.

    • Anna McCarthy

      Yes, it’s true. This is not the end but just the beginning for her. But, something I’ve learned, is to be sensitive to to when our time (or season) starts and ends. I know I was with her during the season I needed to be. And, it was evident that there was much God-given grace over me during it. But, I felt the season change when she left….she is in a new season now. I know my job (during the last one) is complete. I hope I get to walk with her at some point during the next one though!

  • Katie

    I appreciate your trust and confidence in God and His spirit in you. I love how you trusted what He was telling you even though that wasn’t what others were saying.

  • Laurie

    Oh beautiful Anna, where to start? You seem anointed by God! Certainly led by Him! Continue loving and living Jesus w/others, for all the other “stuff” follows. “Above all these put on love”. “And the greatest of these is love”.

    1-Loving people draws them to you.
    2-Loving people allows them to learn to trust you
    3-Loving people into healing makes them grateful
    4-Loving people leads them into introspection (i.e. Can I be like that)?
    5-Loving people leads them to truth

    This isn’t an easy journey, this life. But if everyone loved Jesus like you do-well-there would be fewer train wrecks among us!
    Blessings to you, Anna, and praising God for your heart and spirit!

  • hausefam

    Thank you again Anna! I love your heart and how you listen to Holy Spirit! I love how you are willing to lay down your life – your time, your agenda to just hang out and love someone. The love of God is so powerful and you are an example of the love of God!!

  • Janie Reynolds

    Anna ~ I’m very new to reading blogs and leaving posts. I’ve realized that this reply of mine is in plain sight of anyone (including said daughter) to read. Can you possibly delete it from here but keep it tucked in your heart? Thank you!

  • Janine Thomas

    Anna – just seen some of your blogs for the first time and am so heartened by your words of grace. It is attitudes and actions so influenced by Christ that we lose our discomfort, our comparisons, our desire to rate and assess people who walk in different shoes to us. A fridge magnet in my house while growing up was this old Red Indian proverb “Great Spirit (& I take that as God) let me not judge another until I walk a mile in his moccasins.”
    I have become increasingly aware of the dignity every single life deserves because we all are made in His image. And the test is on those of us who know Him, to do the best we can to reflect that, in everything we say and do. Because we haven’t mirrored Him well in the past & there’s a mountain of negative opinions about Christianity built on our poor responses to human need. And people who used to be in church who won’t set foot in one now because of hurt or disillusionment. For those of us passionate about Jesus – I don’t think there’s a stronger example to us in the Bible than the woman caught in adultery as to how we should treat others. It’s messy and its holy.
    Centuries ago, a guy called Micah wrote this: act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God. It still applies today.
    Keep going Anna, you’re a voice that needs to be heard 🙂

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