Summer has finally arrived in Wales. School is out and special summer events have begun! From “Water Wars” to “Robot Wars,” we’ve had many exciting youth events. (We’ve even had a weeklong “Heat Wave” at 27C! … ahem… that’s only 80F … but remember we don’t have A/C!).
But, with all this Summer busy-ness, I admit, I sometimes wonder what difference is it making. Well, let me share a story with you…
The other day I went to the petrol garage (gas station) to buy an ice cream for Ethan and as I walked into the store, I bumped into a young man I thought I recognized. I was trying to remember his name, but he definitely remembered mine. He said, “Hey Korey, how’s it going?” Embarrassed that I couldn’t remember his name, and starting to recall that he used to come to a youth program I ran called Echo (and was a bit of a troublemaker from what I recall!) I quickly responded, “Hey pal! Good to see ya!”, and we went our separate ways. He returned to his large group of friends and I gave Ethan his ice cream. As I thought about it, I realized it had been nearly 7 years since I last saw this young man.
Time passed, and a week or so later I was at our local skatepark with Ethan and there was this young man again! We both waved at each other, but neither of us approached each other. To be honest, I felt a bit intimidated, this young man was taller than me and with a group of skateboarders. He seemed a bit rough (and I remembered him being a bit mischievous in the past) and I still couldn’t remember his name. I thought I’d just keep an eye on Ethan and see how things developed. Well, 10 minutes or so passed and then another young man arrived at the skatepark. Tom* is his name. Tom had also been at Echo back in the day and I had recently met up with him to catch up. As Tom approached me, this other young man tagged along. I prepared myself for a conversation and really hoped I’d remember his name. I was half expecting him to make fun of me for being at the skatepark or for my receding hair line or something, but much to my surprise he said nothing like that. First, he just listened as Tom and I greeted each other and then he opened his mouth and said, “Hey, I wanted to tell you, I’ve gotten back into God.”
WHAT?! I was shocked. This guy? The troublemaker? Back at Echo he only caused problems, I never thought he was actually listening when I would talk about God. “Yeah” he said, “I’ve been wanting to get back into church and wanted to ask you where I should go.” “That’s great!” I blurted out with a big smile, “That’s really fantastic! How did you get back into God?” He told me about his “super religious friend” named Joe* that always talked about God and how that Joe had caused him to want to know more about God. “I’ve even got the prayer on my wall” he said. “The Lord’s Prayer?” I asked. “I’m not sure” he said “I don’t know the name of it.” “Does it start with Our Father who art in Heaven?” I asked. “Yes, that’s the one!”
By this time a couple minutes had passed and Ethan needed my attention, but I was eager to carry on the conversation. “Hey,” I said, “Do you have a Bible?” “No,” He replied. “Well, I have one I want to give you and I’d love to have you come to church with me.” “Wow, thanks!” He said. “Next time I see you, I’ll give you a Bible, ok?” We agreed and had to part ways, but just before we parted, I stopped him and said, “It’s Mike*, isn’t it?” “Yes,” He replied with a smile.
That night I went home and started praying that God would allow me to see Mike again. I really wanted to give him a Bible and to invite him to church. Well, God answered that prayer exactly one week later! Again, I was at the skatepark with Ethan and this time I had a Bible ready with me. I gave it to him and explained where our church was and what time it started. I also got to show him some of my favourite passages in the Bible right there in the skatepark with his friends gathered around. Please pray for Mike. I believe he is searching for God and for answers. Please pray that he comes to fully trust in Christ and find freedom and life in Him. And thanks be to God for reminders like Mike that our labour is never in vain!
*Names changed to protect privacy