Reaching Others for Christ and Keeping Earth Temporary
Reaching Others for Christ and Keeping Earth Temporary
Is it worth it to step into the public schools, to show support for the staff and students,
to be available to talk, to build relationships so that we can share the Gospel?
Listen to Sophie's testimony and let us know what you think.
Eventually I stumbled upon self harm, which was a well of seemingly endless solution. After the first time, that was where I turned every time. For the next few years I would continuously turn back to that, while simultaneously turning back to self harm every time another well dried up. I was so lost, and I was desperate for some sort of solution. When I got into highschool I discovered substances that I shouldn't have. Substances that seemed to numb my pain and make everything go away. But still these weren't enough, and I continued with self harm.
While my body was becoming addicted to both substances and harm I didn't notice that my mind was getting worse. I had hit an all new low in my life, and that is when God began to work more openly in my life. A strange boy moved up to Maine from Arkansas. A boy that I didn't know would affect my life as much as he has. His name was Julian, and he quickly became my best friend. Julian was a Christian and he was vocal about his views, sadly so was I. We would have lengthy discussion in my room about the existence of God, both of us completely firm in our beliefs, apparently one more so than the other.
Despite my resistance Julian didn't give up. He continued to invite me to his youth group and ask me to go to church with him as he tried to expose me to the Christian environment. But I wouldn't budge, at least not visibly. Months went on and despite our differences our friendship only became closer. Julian became like a brother to me, and a light in the darkness. But the darkness still surrounded me, and it was at a time when I was very overwhelmed that something began to change that.
The week that that something came about, Julian had been pestering me everyday about going to his “after school bible study thing” on Tuesday. I said no, repeatedly. He, the stubborn person that he is, didn't relent. When Tuesday came around I was positive I wasn't going to go. When the final bell rang for the day I began to head outside with another friend that I planned to hangout with. When we got outside the school a fight broke out, and everything became overwhelming and hectic. My friends and I weren't sure what to do, then Julian told us we should just come with him to the after school program. So in the heat and chaos of the moment we decided to join him.
Shortly after I thought this decision was a mistake. There were only about six students there. When I walked into the room I was introduced to a man I'd never met before named James Shaw. I quickly decided I didn't like him very much, because every time James asked a question his eyes seemed to move over to me. This was difficult, and ruined my plan to stay quiet. So despite my protests James got me talking, and thinking. Each time he asked a question I would come up with a new one inside my head.
Each time he asked a question I would come up with a new one inside my head.
When the program ended that day I was more than happy to leave, and let it slip my mind forever. Until Julian decided to ask me to go back the next week, and I reluctantly agreed. The next week when I went back there were only four of us, and James eyes seemed to move over to me even faster. I decided James was a person who frustrated me very much, because he was also a person that made me doubt my ideas. That day I was glad to leave the program, but I was less reluctant to go back, and I even had lingering thoughts that followed me for the rest of the week.
That weekend I decided to go out to Chinese with my grandparents. The meal was going fine and I was having a good time, until my phone rang. This didn't happen often so I was genuinely surprised, even more so when I read that caller ID that said it was Julian's mother calling. When I answered the phone I was met with a very frantic mother. She told me Julian had cut off his finger, and he was being life-flighted to Boston. My heart dropped below my feet and I immediately began to panic.
After I hung up the phone I looked around me and suddenly everything in that Chinese restaurant was shaped like a finger. I could feel my breath start to speed up and I ran out of the restaurant. I walked to the nearest pillar and leaned my body against it. I looked up into the sky and then looked further. I stared into the blue and began to pray. I told God that because Julian believed in him, because he loved him, he needed to fix this. He needed to help my best friend because I loved him. That was the first time in my life that I genuinely prayed.
The next few days I continued praying, it was the only thing I could think to do. I continued with my life, with worry constantly present. The first opportunity Julian had to contact me, he told me I needed to go back to that after school program. I hadn't even thought of the program, but I readily agreed, willing to do anything for him in that moment.
The day of the program came around and I knew I had to go for Julian. In the middle of first period I got a text from Julian's mother telling me that Julian was in surgery again. Immediately I was worried, and what-ifs flew around in my head in rapid succession. I spent the entire day praying and worrying. In addition to this I had been finding out that none of the other students would be going the the program that day. When the final bell rang my stomach was in my throat. My best friend was under the knife, again, I was the only person going to this program, and I just wanted to go home.
I was standing in the hallway across from my cousin with a buzzing in my ears. I wasn't paying attention to a word that was being said. Instead I was thinking about all the things that had been going wrong. For a moment I tuned in to what my cousin was saying in time to hear him say “hey it's that guy.” I turned around to see James making his way toward me, and slowly walked over.
The very first words that came out of James mouth were “how's Julian.” After the words left his mouth, I let out all of the things I had been feeling all day. I rambled on and on about everything that had happened and all of the what-ifs in my mind and how worried I was and how I had been praying for him. I rambled about Julian being in surgery, I rambled about not knowing what to do. Somewhere in my word vomit James picked out the word praying. He stopped my rambling, looked at me, and very simply asked “would you have turned to God if this didn't happen?”
In that moment it was as if all the puzzle pieces had come together. I finally made some sense of this terrible situation. If Julian had simply cut his finger I would have told him to get over it. If he had died, I would have completely given up on God whatsoever. If it had happened at any other time, to any other person, my reaction would not be the same. I was put in the exact situation I needed to be in in order to turn to God. The domino's had been put in order and they fell exactly the way they needed to.
In that moment I realized that God had been moving things in my life.
In that moment I realized that God had been moving things in my life. I went into the classroom leaving my reluctance inside. The questions posed were no longer an annoyance. I was now glad to be the only student and completely riveted by the conversation. I suddenly wanted to be there, and I wanted to talk about God. Once we were finished and I walked out of the building, I realized how beautifully warm it was. I saw how bright the trees were and the beautiful blue sky. I looked on the world with different eyes. It was like a dark curtain had been lifted and I suddenly saw the light. The terrible feeling in my stomach was gone, and I thought God was so incredibly good.
My favorite passage is:
The Rest of The Story
Sophie's story doesn't end there. She is helping to lead our ongoing after-school group, encouraging more students to ask questions and come to know the one true God that she has come to know as her Father.
She is also interning with Maine Ministry, helping us to find fresh approaches to reaching her peers. She's also leading the charge in our church's youth group to be more bold in sharing their faith and living it out in their communities.
She's also a student in a public high school. She still faces the daily challenges of this world for a teenage girl. She still lives with her family that she loves dearly, yearning for them to see the light of the Gospel.
She is now your sister-in-Christ. Please commit to lift her up regularly before our Father!
More Stories Yet To Be Told
Sophie spoke to a gathering of many of our volunteers and team members recently. She reminded us all that there are many, many more students and staff who are hurting and without hope. Many of them have never really had any interaction with the church.
We have such an opportunity to go into these buildings and reach the lost, the hurting, the lonely, the seemingly fine, the souls who are inside those doors. She made an appeal that we all consider these and others who have not heard the Truth that has set each of us free.
Will you pray with us and ask God to raise up those who will bring hope to those without it? Will you go?
- James Shaw
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison-- that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.