I always try to read the comments posted on my blog. Its encouraging for me to read responses from my more funny (“Santa Claus is fake!”) or more serious (“Mr. Potato Head God“) or plain old life (“BLIZZARD!”) posts. Probably one of the most encouraging responses to one of my once-or-twice-a-week-or-so rants came from Allison just a few days ago. She was responding to my article on Social Justice and the Great Commission. I think the reason that this comment made my day, week and month is that it shows, by God’s grace, the long term impact of Dare 2 Share. Check it out…
“Greg, thank you. I have been wanting to thank you for a long time. I don’t think that I could have found a better rant to respond to…Nearly six years ago (April 6-7, 2001), when I was a senior in high school, I attended d2s in Loveland, CO. Prior to the conference, I did not want to go. My friend invited me, and after much persuasion, I finally gave in. I walked in as one of the proudest people in the room. Why am I here? Look at all these KIDS… they’re so hyped up and crazy. This music is weird. How lame; they have the words for everyone to read. If it were really good, then no one would need to read it… As the events of the night continued to unravel… the music… the games… the skits… and the best part of the evening… the play with Josh, the popular football player at the party… my heart began to break. See, in high school, I was not popular, nor very athletic. I was very active: I played many sports (softball, soccer, swimming); I was in band; I was an athletic trainer, a wrestling manager, on the academic decathlon team, etc. I wanted to be the best on the team. I wanted to be recognized. I wanted to be popular. I wanted to reach perfection. In many ways, I knew I would never attain perfection, but it wasn’t until that evening that I realized that I didn’t need to attain perfection. That weekend, my friendship with Jesus was born. Over the next few years, our friendship blossomed. In the evening of the most pivotal day of my life, I can hear myself saying, “I want this, but I don’t want to get all caught in that ‘Jesus’ thing.” What I was saying was: “Okay, this faith thing is great, but I don’t want anymore. I don’t want to share this with anyone.” God is greater than any stubborn heart. He has been working in my life and in my heart. The Holy Spirit has blessed me with a love for others. One of the greatest desires of my heart is to do nothing more than just share His love with whomever I meet. A few years ago, I went on my first mission’s trip. I went to East Asia with Campus Crusade for Christ. I have gone to Asia twice more, to New Orleans, and I have lived a summer in San Antonio, Texas evangelizing on college campuses. Now, I am 23 years old. I have graduated from college. I am at another turning point in my life. I am currently praying for an opportunity to return to the mission field full-time. I just want to thank you. Thank you so much for giving yourself fully to Christ; for going when you heard His call; for sharing your heart for God; for using your talents for God’s purpose; for loving us kids even though we aren’t your own. He is using you. The God of the universe is using you in magnificent ways. Thank you for being a vehicle for the greatest gift I’ve ever received. With great admiration and appreciation, Allison “
You’re right Allison. I love these teenagers even though they aren’t my kids. After the Columbine tragedy when I resigned from being a preaching pastor at Grace Church to reach teenagers full time through Dare 2 Share I was kind of depressed. I loved being a pastor to the people at my church. But then I realized that, while I wasn’t a pastor of a local church anymore, I could have an impact on tens of thousands of teenagers across the nation by loving them, equipping them and having a pastoral influence on them (although not coming close to the impact that their own youth leaders and real pastors make on their lives.) That’s why I always go down into the crowd on Friday and Saturday night after the evening program of the conference is over. I stay and minister on the floor at the front of the stage until the last teen, youth leader or parent is finished talking to me. This is my “church foyer” where I’m able to pray with teens and encourage them in their spiritual journey. I wouldn’t give up what I call “working the foyer” for nothing. It is where I can personally connect face-to-face with the teens and youth leaders I love so much.
The second best place of course is this blog.
Allison your words not only made my month they may have also inadvertantly encouraged some youth leaders who tend to view D2S as “just another conference” to take a second look, a closer look. As you know so well we at D2S strive to provide a training conference that is unique and powerful. Our goal is not to be just another “I love Jesus how about you?” pep rally. Our goal is to reach teenagers with the gospel and then provide a training conference that does just that, trains. My deep conviction is that teens need reached and then equipped to know, live, share and own their faith. That’s what our conferences, by God’s grace, aspire to accomplish. And once these teens are trained they can begin to transform their world with the message and mission of Jesus…just like Allison is doing today.
I can imagine millions of teens and twentysomethings like Allison unleased all over their schools, communities, myspace pages and work places with the good news of Jesus. I can imagine hundreds of thousands of these young people being mobilized through their youth groups and churches all across the planet for world missions, taking the good news of Jesus to the edges of the earth. That thought is my bread, my water, my fuel, my hope, my goal…our goal.
Thanks again for your encouraging words Allison. You’ll never know how much they meant to me.