The Shockley family wears many hats. John is an engineer, Sharon works for Lewis-Gale Hospital and their daughter, Ashley, is an early childhood teacher. Yet the picture of this family wouldn’t be complete without their service to Northstar.
Sharon helps to coordinate the café each Sunday, while John helps with everything from setup and teardown to serving on the Leadership Board. But one of their favorite experiences has been hosting a small group.
“We asked about small groups (when we joined) and the next thing we knew, we were leading one,” Sharon said.
Passion for Youth
Prior to coming to Northstar four years ago, the Shockleys worked with youth groups for almost a decade at their previous church. Their love and passion for helping college-aged people grow is one of the reasons they came to Northstar.
“We both have a heart for the 19-25 age group,” John said. “We’ve really enjoyed the style of worship (at Northstar); it touched us. It’s so cool to watch kids that age worship; it speaks to me big time.”
While they didn’t request a specific age group for their small group, it wasn’t long before that too became a youth ministry for them. Their first semester leading the group, it only had a few participants; however, since then, it’s grown to as many as 14 college students who come to their home to learn more about God each week.
For Sharon, it’s not just about the Bible study, but about getting to know these students and showing them hospitality.
“I love it. It’s the highlight of my week,” Sharon said. “I enjoy sitting down to dinner with them and talking about things that are going on – life.”
John and Sharon have been able to connect with the youth in their small groups, and throughout the church, through a variety of ways.
John has been able to connect with a lot of the college students throughout engineering, and Sharon through medicine.
“It’s neat getting to see so many folks in the professional area — to see the excitement they have early on in a career trying to make a way for their life,” John said.
In addition, John has worked a series of other jobs around the Blacksburg area — from working security at Virginia Tech sporting events to refereeing youth sports, John’s connection through sport has provided yet another way to bond with the area’s youth.
The Shockleys have also been able to use their various local affiliations to connect other Northstar members, and the surrounding community, with one another.
In some cases, these “connections” ended in a happy marriage. “We got a bad rep as a ‘fix up crew’,” Sharon said jokingly.
In their small group a few years ago, two Tech students met for the first time in the springtime. It started as a mutual friendship through studying the Bible in the Shockley’s small group.
When fall came around, however, they had begun dating and pursuing marriage.
“We were joking that they were going to get married out in our yard,” Sharon said. “Watching their relationship develop was really cool.”
High School Sweethearts
Sharon and John aren’t without their own story of romance and a pursuit of a Christ-centered relationship. Sharon and John went to school together in Carroll County, Va., but went to different churches. Their relationship began when they met through mutual friends and attended a church event together.
“We knew a lot of the same people,” John said. “She didn’t know better and I thought she was cute.”
The began dating in high school and kept a long-distance relationship going for two years as John came to Blacksburg. At his grandparents’ 50th anniversary, John proposed to Sharon right in front of the Christmas tree.
“It was really special,” Sharon said. “He said, ‘I hope we have 50 years together just like they’ve had.’”
Last September marked the 30th anniversary after their first date. In the same way that God has blessed their relationship together, John and Sharon hope to be a blessing to the members of Northstar through their consistent, dedicated service.
“We get so much more from them than they get from us,” John said. “You don’t go into it with that idea, but you get it. Your life is so enriched by having that opportunity (to serve).”
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