“Jerrah, these kids are smoking right outside out house!” I turned from my Words With Friends game to look out the window at 4 or 5 kids no older than 13 passing a cigarette and taking a couple puffs. The odd thing indeed was that they were doing it right in front of our house on the sidewalk. Gripped by my nerves and a set of excuses (I just got finished doing yard work for 5hrs straight!) I turned back to my game on my phone to act like I was playing. Although, deep inside I was contemplating doing something. But I didn’t. “I’m going to go out there and say something,” Tammi said as she walked around the corner from her room. My eyes were still on my game as if I didn’t hear her. I looked up and she was looking dead at me as if she was saying instead, “YOU should go out there and say something.” I continued my game.
In my mind I thought, “What in the world am I going to say to these kids. I got nothin’.” I got up and walked away to our bedroom to get dressed for our evening out with her sister. All of a sudden I hear the door open and Tammi says to these kids the nicest thing ever, “Hey you guys, could you not do that in front of our house please? You are under age and…” I actually don’t remember the rest, but the kids were kind to disperse nicely with no retaliation. I thought I would be able to say, “Whelp, glad she got that handled! Now we can get ready to leave.” However, my mind kept running saying, “Why didn’t you go out there? You could have used that opportunity to share the gospel with those kids!” Now I felt guilty that I had missed an opportunity that I may never get again. Oh, but God was gracious.
There is an abandoned house next door to us and while I was in my back yard earlier that day, I would see these kids disappear into the house through the back door. Luckily enough, they did it again 5 minutes after leaving from in front of our house. In my mind, I had to redeem myself. I got a gospel tract out our drawer in our office and told Tammi and her sister, “I’ll be right back. These kids are over here in this house again.”
As I walk out the door, I’m wondering, “What in the world am I going to say to these kids?” I walk to the back to the house next door and saw bikes on the ground outside the patio area. I stopped. I couldn’t remember that last time I was this nervous to talk with kids! I thought about what I might say, then rounded the corner of the patio to walk through the door. Two of them were standing there. Their faces showing that that they had got caught.
“Now, I wonder what I might say to you if I was the owner of this house.” Another one showed up from around the corner inside the house. Two of them were girls. They walked out (one was on a bike).
“What are you guys doing in here?” I said.
“Yeah right.” I thought to myself. “You guys are not in trouble!” I felt their tension as they all seemed like they just wanted to get out of there, but I held them up to make sure they wouldn’t leave. “So, if I was the owner of this place, I’d probably call the cops. More than that, I might call them so that they could find your parents.” I knew they didn’t want that. By this time we are all outside the house in the patio area. Usually, I find myself thinking of great ways to transition into the gospel with people. I mean I could have said, “How does it feel getting caught doing something wrong? How do you think God feels when He sees us doing wrong things? How do we stop Him from punishing us?” But no, I said none of those things.
“Has anyone ever shared with you how faith in Jesus is the way to a real relationship with God?” In retrospect, I do not believe it came out that clearly due to my nervousness.
“What!?” They were completely thrown off. “What does that have to do with anything?” I could tell they were thinking that, but didn’t say it.
I repeated the question and it still didn’t make much sense to them. I pulled out the tract booklet for them and started to quote the verse from John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son. That whosoever believe in Him…” I paused because in all my years of evangelism the majority of the people knew this verse. So, I wanted them to finish it. It was four of them and NONE of them knew this verse! I thought to myself, “Are you kidding me?!” I asked them, “Why don’t you know this verse? You don’t hear it at church?”
“Church is boring!” One of the girls said.
“Wait.” I paused. “How many of you here think church is boring?” Three out of the four raised their hands. “Raise your hand if you have heard about Jesus dying on the cross.” All hands went up. “Good, but why did he die?”
“For our sins!” Another girl replied.
“Ok. That’s true. But why did he have to die for our sins?” This question left them speechless. One went off on a tangent about what race was the first race on the planet and another started talking about Jesus being betrayed by some guy. I had to bring it back. “Let me borrow that stick.” One of the boys was playing with a stick. He handed it to me and I broke it in half. I laid them on the ground, parallel to each other about a foot apart. I told one boy to stand on one side and another to stand on the other side. I pointed at one boy saying, “He’s people or us.” To the other boy, “And He’s God.”
I attempted to explain to them that God and people are separate from him because of sin. “Jesus died for our sins to bridge this gap that is between people and God.” I walked to the middle to represent Jesus and stretched out my arms to both of them. After explaining that, it was pretty much silent. We talked a little more and I ended up letting them God, but not without inviting them to come back by my house to talk some more tomorrow.
My heart goes out to those four kids, because, in spite of their church background, they don’t know and maybe never responded to the gospel. It makes me think about the generation coming after us and what kind of Christians they will be. My hope is that we can make some kind of impact before we leave this earth, but until then, my prayer is that I can clearly communicate the message of grace through Christ and clearly live it out so that the world will know that there is a God who is there and that he loves them more than they could ever comprehend.