You'd have to live under a rock to be unaware of the rancor surrounding the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. Whatever you think of his politics and personality, it is undeniable that he has tapped into many people's frustration with and anger towards a government increasingly seen as unresponsive and alienated from the people it is supposed to represent. His supporters see a dismal future based on what they see what is happening in Washington in the present.
Tonight I saw just the opposite. After teaching my SOTA bass classes, I hung around the church for awhile to watch our youngest youth group lead the teenagers in worship, followed by a tic-tac-toe race. I was putting away the bass equipment, but had to stop so as not to disturb Nate as he talked with the kids. Using the tic-tac-toe game as a prop, he spoke of a spiritual "three in a row" - how everyone has someone ahead of them, themselves, and someone behind them when it comes to knowing God; a nice use of the game, I thought.
Then he spoke of wanting to see Jenny come to Christ. Jenny lives across the road from Nate. She has a neurological condition that every so often causes her jaw to lock up so she talks through clenched teeth. She apparently had complained to him about the campfires they had out behind their place. When he knocked on her door to apologize, she spent ten minutes berating him, claiming as she chain smoked in front of him that the smoke from his fire was aggravating her asthma.
Another time he took her a food basket from the church. Jen claims to be half Jewish, so when Nate pulled out a ham from the basket, she exclaimed, "The only Jew in Sinclairville, and you bring me a ham?" To which he responded by grabbing the fried bacon off a plate on her table, waving it at her. "What about this?" I wish I had been there to witness it.
Nate persisted. He took her some soup, and the next time he visited, she thanked him. Her jaw had locked up, and the soup was the only thing she could eat. Bit by bit, he is chipping away at her resistance, refusing to be put off by her brash criticism. As he told these stories, Nate encouraged the kids to find that person for whom they can be the link to God. "It won't be easy; when you say yes to God, it may take years of faithfulness before God breaks down their resistance. "I prayed every night for 19 years before my brother in law came to Christ." It was then I knew that the future is not as Trump's followers see it. In fact, it is bright with promise. Sadly, I cannot claim as Nate can to have prayed every night for 19 years for anyone. He and others of his generation are taking my generation's feeble efforts to the next level, boldly praying and proclaiming Christ. I see the evidence of it with the scores of new young adults showing up in worship every week, and when I hear pastor Joe's clear presentation of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
My hope is not in the feeble promises of the Republicans or Democrats to save us, but in Jesus who continues to prove himself faithful, raising up a generation committed to boldly and radically loving and following Jesus Christ. I am so very grateful to have stayed to listen tonight. I was convicted and challenged by my own son to be more and better than I have been.