by Ashley Denton
This is the story of a remarkable journey of a teacher & two volunteer youth workers who inspired a group of at risk kids with the good news of Jesus. In addition to be an inspiring story, it is also a case study in youth missiology exploring how lessons from creation and adventure can be effective tools for sharing the Gospel. [All names have been changed in this article]
This was a trip of firsts for me. It was my first trip to this particular country. It was the first time I’ve ridden in an Army truck for 6 hours to the base of a volcano for an outreach camp. It was the first time I’ve ever swung like Tarzan from 80 foot vines in a forest as a way to break down relational barriers with a group of kids from a totally different religious worldview. And it was the first time I’ve ever had to take care of three kids at the same time for hypothermia in a country that has a reputation for being warm.
The Profound Effect of Unwavering Perseverance
Yet probably the most profound “first” for me was to walk alongside Wulandari (an enthusiastic Jesus-follower in culture where there are very few Believers) as she struggled to breathe for 18 hours of hiking over two days so that she could accomplish something she never dreamed possible: to reach the summit of a very challenging peak. At the end of the trip, all of the youth leaders and kids alike talked about the profound affect Wulandari had on each of them in light of her perseverance and unwavering joyful attitude.
Street Kid Turned Youth Worker
Relational evangelism in a context that is predominantly anti-Christian has many challenges. Ardhi, one of the key youth workers who we are partnering with, explained that most of the young people who they build relationships with throughout this country come broken families. These kids love to fight and look for enemies from other schools. They maintain a fighting culture in their groups and train the younger kids how to fight. Some of them try to rob buses, and many of them make money by begging on the streets. Ardhi grew up playing a Ukulele on the street to make money from people passing by. Now, by the grace of God, he has a really good job which allows him to volunteer some of his time for youth ministry. He uses his free time and vacation to share the Gospel with kids who are growing up on the streets like he did. God raises up leaders for the Great Commission from some of the most unlikely circumstances!
The day before kids arrived for our outreach camp, we gathered the leaders to prepare for our adventure to a nearby forest. We spent the day training these courageous leaders in some simple ways to use God’s creation as a bridge to share the Gospel on our journey up the mountain.
An Example of What it Looks Like to Use Lessons from Creation to Share Jesus
The next day, while hiking along, Cahyo asked one boy who he had known for five years, “Do you think this trail will get us to the top of the volcano?” The boy replied, “Maybe yes, maybe no.” Cahyo then said, “If this is the right path, then it will get us to the top, won’t it?” “I guess so,” the boy replied. “In my faith”, Cahyo explained, “Jesus Christ is the right path. By following Jesus Christ, I have assurance that I am going to ‘make it to the top’… Jesus Christ is the path to salvation and eternal life. He is the only true path.” In these few well-crafted phrases, Cahyo planted a seed. After reaching the top, while looking down into the steaming crater, Cahyo tossed another seed of the Gospel out to his young friend: “That was the right path, wasn’t it? It got us to the top, didn’t it?” Leaving it at that, he gave this boy an opportunity to think about the most important decision he could ever make as he walked down the mountain toward home.
What to Do With This Story?
This story occurred in one of the most unreached regions on Earth. We have hope that these seeds of the Gospel will bear fruit in the lives of some young people there. Please pray for good heart-soil where these seeds of Good News can grow.
The words of the prophet Isaiah, which we often quote in celebration of Christmas, really resonate with me in relation to what I see God doing through these courageous youth workers:
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned…. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Is. 9:2,6).
Thanks for praying for leaders such as these who are pouring their lives into young people in hopes for an opportunity to point them to Jesus.