If you have ever worked with teens or had one in your home, this story will sound all too familiar. It plays out most every day, in every school and in every Sunday School class. But often we don't know what an opportunity we have in front us. Our students have such great potential — as you will see in this account from a FAITH team leader.
Our student FAITH team assembled together before departing to go share our faith. Our team was assigned three ministry visits consisting of sixth- and seventh-grade girls, because I am the sixth- and seventh-grade Sunday School teacher.
The first visit was good. All the girls on my team played softball with the prospect we were visiting. We uncovered two prospects on this visit. Instead of continuing on with the other visits assigned, our team decided to visit Misty.
You see, several weeks prior, our team was returning from all our FAITH visits when I noticed a young girl walking down the road. The girls on our team were quick to say they knew her from school, but their parents did not allow them to talk to her because of her reputation at school. I immediately inquired more about her reputation and quickly let my team know we need people like Misty in our class.
Weeks passed and I could not forget Misty's face and the conversation in the van that day with my student FAITH team. I thought, who would go if we didn't go to witness to her? The next week at FAITH I asked the girls on my team to find out where Misty lived so we could visit her. They came back with Misty's address, and we were ready to go. Off we went to recruit Misty and tell her about Jesus.
On the way to her home, the girls told me she lived with her grandma because her mother had died and her dad didn't want her. I could hear the whispers in the van: "I'm not talking to her." "Well, I'm not talking to her." "Me either."
I spoke up and said, "Well, if you're not comfortable, I'll talk to her and take care of the introduction. Then we all can have a conversation."
As we approached the door, a young attractive lady answered. I immediately said, "Oh, we may have the wrong home. I'm Cindy Smith with FBC and I am looking for Misty. The lady introduced herself as Shirley and said, "I am her grandma. Please come in."
I introduced our team and explained the girls knew Misty from school. With a look of embarrassment, Shirley gazed up to the sky and said, "You know, Misty made a good decision this week. Kids came to the house to sell her drugs, and she said no. I am so proud of her."
Shirley then looked at me and began telling her story. Her pain-ridden face told the story of how she had lost her daughter six years ago to a drug overdose and she was forced to raise Misty; how her sixty-six-year-old mother was ill and she was trying to care for her; how her other daughter was on the wrong road and now she was caring for her little boy who was crying at her feet as we talked.
As Shirley pointed to her ankles and ran her fingers up the fresh scars to her knees, she continued to explain the car accident that recently almost took her life. I was listening in disbelief that so much had happened to this poor woman and could not wait to give my evangelistic testimony. I explained to Shirley how just three years ago I had a life-changing experience. I was down and out, and abusing my body with alcohol and drugs. Then on a Sunday morning in January, I cried from the pit of my soul for God to help me because I could not help myself. God delivered me, and I have not been the same.
Shirley then explained she had accepted Christ as her Savior in 1978. Shirley then placed her fragile hands around the Vodka bottle sitting on the table between us and said, "This is how I dealt with the pain for the past six years, and I know it is wrong." Shirley then said, "I prayed just this morning that God would send someone to help me."
I looked in Shirley's pain-stricken eyes and said I would help her, but the first step she needed to take would be to meet me in church Sunday morning with her family. She committed to being there.
Did Misty come to know the Lord, and do she and her grandma now come to church every week? No, not yet — but we have every confidence they will soon. Our girls are inviting Misty to church activities and loving on her. The Lord will use our little seed and the love shown to both of them from our church to soon bring them into the fold. We are commanded to go ... we don't always get to immediately see the harvest.
This was a learning experience for the student FAITH team. Those girls may not have experienced a glorious profession but they glimpsed beneath the hard shell and saw a soul. They saw her grandma's circumstance and what she had been through and heard her cry for help. They learned "compassion" which will lead to a stronger "passion" for souls! Praise the Lord that our students are learning to witness and win their world in their lifetime!
Bobby Welch is president of the Southern Baptist Convention, pastor of First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Florida, and originator of the FAITH evangelism strategy.