I want to tell you a story.
The story is about a boy of about fourteen. The boy is sullen and angry. His parents just got divorced and he has to live with his mom and little sister. He thinks the world revolves around his father and wants to live with him. His mom forces him to go to church and he hates being there. Every Sunday, he stomps in and slumps down as far as he can get in his seat.
Watching him, is a man. The man leads a Sunday School class with middle-/high-schoolers with his wife. He has an amazing testimony and story of redemption. The man can see a little of himself in this boy.
The man introduces himself to the boy and invites him to the Sunday School class. It takes him multiple attempts for the boy to finally agree to go.
The boy loves it. He loves the class and he loves the leaders even more.
The boy’s sister joins him in the class when she starts seventh grade. She loves it, too. She connects with the leaders on a level she hasn’t connected with other Christian leaders in her life. These people are real. They are living out loud for God. They are refreshing.
One day, the youth leaders for the Wednesday night class announce they are leaving and the Sunday School leaders will be taking their place. The boy and girl are excited.
Youth group changes dramatically with the new leaders. It becomes dynamic and fun. They learn more about the Bible than they ever have. They start each service with worship and then a icebreaker game before the sermon. The sermon’s are exciting. Both boy and girl can sit through the entire service, with rapt attention. They learn about the man’s testimony, which blows them away.
They begin to become more involved. The youth leaders start a Thursday night game night with a ramp for skateboarding, a pick-up football game, and plenty of board games. The boys play sports and get dirty. The girls sit at picnic tables and gossip (um, in a godly way?). Boy and girl begin to enjoy church.
The youth leaders begin to have a Sunday afternoon hangout, between the morning services and evening service. They go to the beach or hang out by a pool. They stop at Wendy’s for a yummy lunch. They shake the van while sitting at a traffic light, with the leader leading the way. They have more fun with church friends than they ever imagined.
But then circumstances arise where a new youth leader takes his place. Boy and girl are devastated. They never connect with another leader as much as the previous ones.
But for those short months they got to have those leaders changed their life. They never forgot them, never forgot their story or how much they meant to them.
They saved their life. They showed them a new way of living. They inspired them.
Boy and girl grew up. They never tried a drug in their life. They never saw the inside of a jail cell. They never had a drunken night. They fought through the odds to come out on top. Boy has a good job, a beautiful girlfriend, and an adorable baby. Girl has a good job and is finishing up her Bachelor’s degree. They never forgot those leaders or the impact they had on their lives.