John Dotson / Mike Stanziola / Dan Burris / Larry Griffin / Carol Weiss
When I was a little boy , I felt like God was asking me to be a preacher , said Pastor Mike Stanziola
of Genoa Baptist Church.Stanziola graduated from Hazelton Area High School , Pennsylvania , and Liberty University
.As a junior high and high school student , living for the Lord was not the first thing on his
mind.When he started college , his goal was to be a biology teacher
As I got right with God , I started living for the Lord , getting back into reading my Bible , he
said.God reminded me of that little call that he
had on my life when I was a little boy and said , 'you know I wanted you to be a preacher.'.
So , he
switched majors.He graduated from college and became youth pastor at a church near the school
.Eventually he met the minister from Genoa Baptist , who brought him to the church so he could check out the area , and on Aug
.31 , 1998 he
made the move here.
sometimes wishes he
could have a normal nine to five job , he
enjoys being able to impact people's lives with the word of the Bible and seeing the way God changes people's lives.Stanziola
, who married in May of 1997 , is also thankful for his
wife's support and said he
wouldn't be able to do it without her
Some people say , you know God is really for real , and some say give me a break , there's no God , he
said.Well , obviously they've never lived for God or even tasted God.Just like I've never see wind , but I feel the effects of the wind and I know the wind's there and I know God is here..He
has tried to turn the youth ministry at Genoa into something that the students can feel like they own , as well as a place where anyone can feel welcome.He
wants the students to be proud they belong to the church , and to bring their friends.He
tries to show them , through his
Bible teachings and youth activities , that the Christian life doesn't have to be boring.
Our goal is to see that each student is prayed for , prayed with , loved and discipled when they come in here , Stanziola
There are 18 adult leaders who help ensure that each student has time spent with them.Since the group has grown from 20 to over 80 students the last year , with 29 students baptized and numerous students saved over the past year , Stanziola
is unable to keep up with all of the students alone.
Genoa Baptist youth also have many opportunities to meet during the week.On Sundays there is Sunday school , then Sunday morning church , Sunday evening church , followed by Afterglow , which is where the students go out and swim , get ice cream or participate in other group activities.Tuesday nights are visitation nights.
On Wednesdays , there is a 6 p.m. prayer meeting and at 7 p.m. they have games with prizes and Bible teachings.
always keeps Thursday and Friday open for the students sporting activities , which he
also tries to attend.
Saturdays a few times a month they try to have a cookout , concert , trip , youth rally or other special activity.Each year they also have summer camp at Liberty University
Last year the group went on a mission trip to New Mexico , and this year , Dec.27-29 , they are planning on attending a conference in Gatlinburg , Tenn.
By keeping the youth group fun and exciting for the students , Stanziola
has been able to see some exciting growth over the last year and hopes to continue seeing this kind of improvement.
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Burris Resisted 'The Call' At First