She slid off the inflatable slide and was putting on her shoes to leave when she yelled out, “I’ll be back!” I fired back, “We’re here every Sunday morning and Sunday and Wednesday nights. I’ll be here when you come back.” “Promise?!” she answered. “I promise.” I said as I threw a football back across the gym.
The following Sunday night I was surprised when she ran into the gym after youth choir rehearsal. “I just told Danny he better get me a choir robe, because I’ll be here!” she exclaimed, “I told you I would be back. Aren’t you glad to see me?”
I was glad to see her. During the 5th Quarter I asked her where she went to church, and I was a little surprised to hear that 5th Quarter was her first introduction to church As we talked over sno-cones she shared with me that she had never been to church and she had come because her friend invited her. When I realized that she came back to church because she was excited and craving more, I was equally excited and encouraged by her enthusiasm.
It is great to witness her enthusiasm as she hears biblical stories for the first time: “This man was robbed and laying on the side of the road. A priest walked by him and didn’t do a thing. Can you believe that? A priest?! And the guy who helped him didn’t even know him at all!” The wonder on her face is infectious.
It’s hard not to chuckle during worship when she leans over to Valerie, our Youth Intern, and asks, “Why do they always let that one guy talk every week? He gets to talk every week and a lot longer than anyone else. They don’t let anyone else do that.” and to hear Valerie whisper back, “That’s Chris. He’s the preacher.”
It is renewing to see Jesus again for the first time, through the eyes of a youth who has never before experienced Jesus. She does not take anything for granted. She asks questions that are raw. And we are witnessing the love of Christ start to transform her.
Her story is one of the many reasons our Celebrate Giving emphasis is so appropriate this year. God is using Smoke Rise Baptist Church to transform lives, not only the lives of people around the world, but also our neighbors right next door. Our commitment to work together to finish the year on budget is more than a financial decision. Behind every dollar we give there are life-changing stories and eternal consequences.