As a teenager, my faith was the central focus of my life. I found in Christ and the church a sense of belonging, approval, and acceptance that I couldn't find anywhere else. For reasons known and unknown to me, though I believed deeply, my insecurities and desire for acceptance prevented me from speaking out about Christ. To most people, I was a good kid who was scared to death over the prospect of sharing my faith in any context but summer camp. Maybe it began shortly after I came to Christ when I tried to witness to my friends and was rebuffed with ridicule. For whatever reason, I was pretty timid about it all.
Which is why the kids in our youth group are so impressive to me. On the coldest weekend ever recorded in New York City twenty one of our kids were on the streets working with the homeless, giving away their own mittens, hats, and even coats along with sandwiches, hot drinks, and Christian literature. They rode the Staten Island Ferry for the express purpose of looking for people with whom they could share the Gospel. One of the kids related that not everyone was accepting of their mission. "Buzz off, kid," is pretty clear, but Jalen, this 12 year old, took it in stride with a shrug.
Last Monday I was part of a conversation with one of our kids who was on that mission trip. She spoke of approaching homeless people to talk with them about Christ. When asked if she was scared to do this, she replied, "I just asked myself, 'What's the worst thing that could happen?'" If this were just one gregarious and outgoing kid, I might be inclined to dismiss it, but I've listened to kid after kid, all of whom are more bold than I ever was in sharing their faith. I am in awe of them. Their boldness is in part testimony to the example given by their leaders, and tonight I am thankful that the faith has been passed down two generations from myself to young adults who already are declaring boldly to their world their faith in Christ.