We sat across the table from each other at Burger King. It was the night of our weekly teen boy Bible study. This was his first time attending but none of the other boys could come tonight so we sat and talked. A friend of his who attends and I have been trying to get him to come for a few months. I had met him through my walks through the projects with Jojo. Since no one else was there it was a good time for us to get to know each other a little better.
He was brutally honest about his past and his problems. He told me he didn't know why he was telling me all of this. He said he guessed it was because he thought he was a good judge of character and I looked honest.
I knew better. It was the Holy Spirit working.
His past had been full of problems. Abuse, foster homes, drug use, and many, many, other issues. I sat there and listened. Although nothing surprises me a whole lot anymore when it comes to kids and youth, I was taken aback just a bit. In our talks in the projects he was always cheerful with a smile on his face. I had no idea that he was hiding pain, self esteem problems and anger issues behind the smile and cheerfulness.
As we talked I asked him about his belief in God. He said he believed that there was a God but that God wasn't a personal God. He was somewhere out there looking at what was going on in our world. After all, If God were a personal God why would He allow all of the bad things that had happened.
When I told him that God loved him and thought he was a good kid my friend bristled. He almost shouted "No! I'm not a good kid!". I have never had a child or teen be so emphatic in what they said! Again I was taken back. When I questioned why he would think such a thing he stopped and was silent for a couple of minutes. Finally, with pain in his eyes, he told me of something that he had done when he was quite young. He had done it to someone he loved. The person had never forgiven him and he couldn't forgive himself.
It had happened when he was seven years old!
He then confided that I was the only person that he had ever told about it. What a heavy burden he had carried around with him for all of those years! None of what I said after that made any difference. He was convinced he was a bad kid then and he was still bad.
I am often amazed at what God is doing in the ministry that He has given Sarah and I at Good News Ministries. It has evolved so much since the ministry first began nearly 20 years ago. One thing still remains, though. We are still committed to loving and working with the low income children, teens, and adults in our community.
Still, if you would have told me a couple of years ago that I would be doing a Bible study with a bunch of teen boys and that I would be loving it, I would have scoffed at the idea. Children were always my thing and Sarah and I worked together with the adults. I would have never imagined the twists and turns our God has placed in our ministry the past year and a half.
God has blessed, however, and is continuing to do amazing things.
Please continue to be in prayer for our ministry and the teen boy's Bible study that I am still holding every Thursday night at Burger King. Pray especially for this young man. Pray that he will find his worth in the Lord Jesus Christ and that he will realize that God loves him, He has great plans for him and He, especially, thinks that he is a fantastic kid.
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1, NIV)