THE UNKNOWN YOUTH PASTOR
This is the true story of an unknown youth pastor. But first I must tell you about Dean (name changed for privacy). Dean grew up in a rough and tumble neighbourhood with rough and tumble friends. In High School Dean played on the football team. Their team had such a reputation that on away games after the game they were escorted from the locker room onto the bus and driven clear out of town. Definitely no one in Dean's team ever went to church. But for home games a skinny scrawny local youth pastor would come down to their locker room and pray with them before the game and invite them to visit the church's youth group.
One day Dean and his buddy decided to go and check out the youth group. They figured if that skinny youth pastor had the guts to come down to their locker room, then they owed it to him to at least visit his youth group. When they walked through the door the whole place went silent. Dean sat on a chair in the circle and turned to talk to the guy on his right but the guy just faced away from him. So he turned to talk to the girl on his left but she faced away from him also. The youth pastor then talked. Dean had never heard such far-fetched stories in his life. "There was this god and he had a son who came and died for everyone but then came alive again and now lives somewhere!!!" Dean wondered what sort of crack this guy was smoking. Then at the end everyone just got up and left. No one talked to Dean or his buddy. They figured it was because they had a reputation so decided to come back and try again. They came back eight times but no one ever talked to them, so they gave up. The youth group was obviously not for them.
As far as the youth pastor goes, the story ends there. He is an unknown youth pastor and these boys might as well be unknown boys. They came, they didn't fit in, they left.
Life continued on for Dean. He went to college. He goofed around a lot. He played football. Dean had a lot of talent and a lot of energy but life was beginning to seem meaningless for him. He didn't get the goal of living. He started driving around looking for a way to end it all, maybe by driving off a high cliff. And then the message he heard from those eight times he attended youth group came flooding back. He realized if there was a point to living and life wasn't meaningless, it probably had something to do with that God he had heard about. He talked to God and made some deals with God. It would be another seven years before he actually gave his life to God. Dean is now an old man with a wife and kids and grandkids who love and serve God.
The unknown youth pastor has no idea about the ending of this story. I don't know who he is or if he even still lives. But there are many like him. Maybe someone reading this. You faithfully serve God. You go out of your way for people and you share the story of Jesus. And you get little or no thanks and see little fruit for your labours. Dean shared his story with me this weekend. He is now in his twilight years. His comment was that it took God to find him. Only God could save a rebel kid like him.
I want to honour the youth pastor and to encourage all who serve in such ways to not grow weary because your work for God is never in vain.
I wish I could tell you more about Ukraine. It feels a long distance and a few worlds away. I know Ukrainian themes have been featuring quite heavily in my dreams of late. I would love you to continue to pray for UTSIM and for Natasha and Sveta who seek to use this business as an avenue to shine in the Rzhyshchiv community. Please also continue to pray for Vlad who will remain in jail for another 5 years barring a miracle.
I also want to challenge you to think about helping orphans in Nepal. Nepal is a poor and neglected country. Please read about my amazing encounter with some Ukrainians I had there in September. Please follow this link or this one in Russian to see how you can be of assistance.
ON THE HOME FRONT
So where is home these days? Currently it is Olympia, Washington, USA. The most amazing time of my life occurred a couple weeks ago. Please read last week's RPJUAD if you missed it. I am happy to announce that Marie and I will tie the knot in Shelton, WA, USA on July 6, 2013!! I return to Australia soon and have work from the start of the school year until June 21. Marie will come to Australia in February and look for work. We will return to the states for our wedding before setting up home in Sydney. As I type this Marie is busily filling out visa application forms and getting her head around the vagaries of Australian immigration. Thanks to all who have prayed for us both and those who have been supportive in helping us with practical tips and information.
Twenty-two years ago I had my first overseas trip and it just happened to be to Washington State, a couple hours north from here in the town of Sequim. This past weekend Marie and I drove up and met up with the people who looked after a skinny talkative 17 year old. We were blessed with memories, conversation, encouragement and a ride up to the top of Hurricane Ridge in a black Jaguar, one of Marie’s lifelong wishes.
WATH YA READIN'?
I have been greatly distracted of late and got stuck half way to Venus in the middle of CS Lewis’ trilogy. I have picked up a very interesting book about the challenges Islamic women face. It is called Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks. A very insightful and interesting read.
PRAYER AND PRAISE
· Youth workers around the world who tirelessly share the gospel
· UTSIM in 2013
· Vlad in jail
· Orphan ministry in Nepal
· Our wedding plans for July
Maberrys, Osbornes and Johnsons for a wonderful weekend reminiscing and being blessed by generosity and Christian friendship.
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