RITE OF PASSAGE: Thankful for Teenagers
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for teenagers. I know what you’re thinking: “How can you use the words teenagers and thankful in the same sentence?” I would like to tell you a true and wonderful story. Anabel Badillo, director of missions for First Church of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, shared it during our recent missions conference.
One day this spring, a young lady with three small children knocked on the church door, wanting to speak with someone. Anabel invited her in and the young woman began:
“Things were tough in my hometown, so I moved my three children and myself to Nuevo Laredo, looking for work. Everything in my life soon took a downward spiral. I couldn’t find a job. I began to do things I am too ashamed to talk about. I even took drugs, which only left me more ashamed.
I realized that I could no longer continue life this way. One morning, in desperation, I devised a plan to solve the problem. I would end it all. I decided to kill all four of us. I got up fully intending to carry out my plan. First, I gave each child a sleeping pill. I needed them unconscious so I could walk to the store. I soon found what I wanted- a bag of rat poison. Making sure I bought enough for us all, I paid the bill and began the journey home.
As I cut across a plaza, I ran into a group of white teenagers dressed in funny costumes and jumping around to music. Something drew me closer and I realized that the narration was in Spanish. The drama portrayed a king whose kingdom was in trouble. He sent his only son to rescue the people who lived there. The young people acted out the story with great intensity. I began to realize that the drama was about more than a king; it was about the King of kings.
After they finished the performance, the teenagers began to explain the drama. The King was God, His son was Jesus Christ and the evil Knight was Satan. I understood all this, but the students didn’t stop there. They said the people who had been deceived were . . . me. The enemy had tricked me into trading the hope of God for the despair of the world. Next, the translator said that these teenagers were coming out to talk to anyone who was interested. Three of them approached me with a card written in English and Spanish. They used it to explain the story again. They said that Jesus loved me and had given His life to save me. If I would repent and accept His gift of freedom, I could become one of His.
Little did the teenagers know that their card was sitting on top of my bag of rat poison. When they finished, they asked me to come with them to an interpreter. They wanted to make absolutely sure that I understood the message. I told them I wanted to accept this Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I didn’t tell them of my plan. But right there in the square, I bowed my head and asked Jesus to come into my heart, save me and help me with my family. Those teenagers were excited about what God did in my life. They took my name and address so someone could contact me. Then they handed me a little Bible.
As I walked home, I knew something was different. When I arrived home, my children were still asleep. In the quietness, I began to read the Bible I had received. It spoke of hope and help from a loving God. I knew then that I didn’t have to end my children’s lives. When they woke up, I remembered the name of the church the group was working with, and I thought, “I need to go talk to them.” And that is why I am here today.”
Since that time, this lady has found a job, her family is attending church and her faith is growing by leaps and bounds. As Anabel told me the story, she looked me straight in the eye and said, “Walker, the group of teenagers she was talking about was . . . yours.”
I wept. A handful of teenagers who gave up their spring break to go to Mexico and share the Gospel with Awe Star Ministries not only led this lady to the Lord, but also kept her from killing herself and her three children. This Thanksgiving, I am grateful to those students who give up their time and their resources to be Jesus to someone who is hurting. Pray with me for the Lord of the harvest to send forth . . . more.