One of my favorite things about where I went to school is that I now have friends living in countries all over the world and get to read their updates. The following is a story from one of those friends who currently lives in Egypt. If you enjoy this story, you can contact her through her blog – Out of Egypt.
I thought it would be a typical Wednesday night at Contact. These middle schoolers are one of the LOUDEST and craziest group of kids I’ve ever worked with. They screamed through the games, goofed around during the music, and texted/talked while Jay was speaking.
Towards the end, Jay made a statement that sparked a question. The question came from Z (an 8th grader) and was basically, “Wait, so if Jesus is the only way to heaven, then what about all those other religions? Are you saying that all of them are going to hell?” Cautiously, Jay broached the answer… “Well, yes. Sadly there are so many “good people” who will never get to heaven because they haven’t placed their trust in Jesus.”
The color rushed to Z’s face as he cried out “That’s not fair!” He became very defensive as the discussion continued. “Well that’s what the Bible says,” he said, “but I know lots of friends who follow other religions and they have their own book that says something different. How can we say they’re going to hell then? It’s not fair.”
The questions immediately started firing, one after another. “What about babies? Do they go to heaven when they die?” “What about all the remote peoples in the world who have never heard of Jesus?” etc. etc. etc.
Poor Jay had been bombarded by a tsunami of difficult questions- all at the end of youth group time. I could tell he was completely overwhelmed. He suddenly paused all the questions and said, “Okay, hang on. Just let me pray and ask God for wisdom.” He stopped everything and asked God to come and help him explain some of these difficult concepts.
After the prayer, he said “It’s 8 o’clock, so if some of you need to go that’s fine. But you’re welcome to stay and talk.” Some kids left. Some lingered for a few minutes before their parents came to pick them up. After awhile there were eight left.
These eight weren’t going anywhere, not until they got some answers to their questions. I stayed and listened as the topics moved from one hard question to the next. Z grew more and more visibly upset. I prayed to myself, “Father, don’t let him walk away angry.” I went to the other room to text my roommates and asked them to pray from our apartment.
I came back into the discussion, and watched as Z’s face started to soften. His anger had subsided and turned to a heavy, heavy concern. I was completely humbled as these 8 students came to the stunning realization that people all around them were condemned to hell unless someone told them. I was in awe as the kids, after much heart-wrenching discussion, responded by joining hands and praying over their lost friends and inviting the Holy Spirit to come- asking Him to give them understanding and answers to their questions. Their true heart-felt prayers of complete and honest requests put me to shame. As I listened to them pray, I wanted to sit back and shut up and listen for hours. I found my heart erupting in joyous prayers of thanksgiving as I prayed,
I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
As we wrapped up, we talked with the kids about what they wanted to do from here. They wanted to start meeting together once a week in a smaller setting to wrestle through some of these things. They didn’t want to leave until we had it settled. These 8 kids left at 9pm, a whole hour later than usual. Some of the same kids who are usually bolting out the door at 8oclock were glued to their seats this extraordinary night.
The students’ questions are still ringing in my head…. “But what about the people who’ve never heard? There are so many people out there who haven’t! How are they gonna know? How can WE tell them all??”
Where are you, O Church? Where are you going? Wake up to the call! As we sit in our comfortable chairs each week, there are countless dying and going to eternal death in hell and separation from the Father because they’ve never heard of the Son. And we wonder why kids/teenagers have such a hard time comprehending that God is real. If we all truly believed what we say we believe, would we not be MOVING? Would we not be moving out to the frontlines of our neighborhoods, schools, communities, and even to the ends of the earth to save the billions who are dying apart from the knowledge of the Son?
I am truly humbled tonight. I am thankful. Pray that what happened here tonight remains with these kids as they live day to day. Pray their passion only grows and spreads even to their peers within the middle school youth group. Pray that as they wrestle through these questions, they will respond, and lead others to JC.
And finally, pray that their witness wakes up a sleeping church.