When Cassandra Smith, of Creekside, found little pieces of paper with hand-scrawled prayers littering an arena after an Aquire the Fire youth conference for which she was road manager in 2010, she started saving them.
After nine months and 24 cities, she had about 4,000 letters to God written by the teenagers who’d attended the conferences.
“I just felt compelled to try to bring help,” she said.
Smith’s book, “Letters to God: Diary of an Unsilenced Generation,” was released over Valentine’s Day.
“There were a lot of questions in (the letters). This book is my attempt to answer those questions and point (people) toward help,” she said.
Smith, 30, is the daughter of David and Diana Smith, of Creekside.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology through Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and has taken classes toward a master’s in clinical counseling through Colorado Theological Seminary. Currently the youth pastor at Calvary Evangelical Free Church in Indiana, she has worked with youth for 14 years, she said.
“I understand their world, where they’re coming from, both textbook and real life experience,” she said.
Smith said the book is organized around particular issues.
For each issue she prints letters, but then offers answers to the questions raised.
She also lists resources for each topic, as well as applicable Bible verses.
“I didn’t want it to be this expose on pain. … I wanted to be able to provide readers with hope,” she said.
She collected the letters between September 2010 and May 2011, then spent about two years writing the book. It was printed last October through her own branch of Next Century Publishing, but she chose to release it over Valentine’s Day because teen suicide rises in February, she explained.
“I just really hope that it helps teens know that you’re not alone, you’re not the only one to face this, let’s go find help together,” she said.
The book is also for people working with teens.
“If you’re looking for insight into the teenagers around you, take a moment to read it, because it was very eye-opening, and hopefully it will encourage you to get involved with students and help you feel comfortable getting into the lives of students,” she said.
Her book is available on Amazon.com, and more information is on her website at www.LetterstoGodMovement.com.