Question: “There’s a 16 year old in my youth group who has just started coming. He doesn’t know much about God or the Bible. Do GoodSeed materials work for teenagers as well as for others?”
Answer: "YES!" Here’s an inspirational story to illustrate.
One night a few months ago, I was cleaning up after Youth Group at my church when a new kid I had previously noticed approached me.
There was no introduction. The young man jumped right into a rather one-sided conversation with me as if we had been friends for a long time. I listened, somewhat distracted with my work. But Jake* was very transparent, and I soon put the pieces together. He was not a Christian and he only started coming to the youth group because he was friends with one of the girls who attended. It became quickly apparent that, though only 16 years old, he had already made some very poor life choices. As the messy details spilled out, his “so-what” demeanor made me wonder if he realized the consequences of some of those choices.
In the coming weeks, Jake became a regular, and every week he persisted in talking with me. Sometimes it was hard to accommodate his chatter in the midst of a noisy group of teenagers. Since I didn’t want him to feel like I was blowing him off, I asked him, “Hey, do you want to go out for coffee so we can talk uninterrupted?”
He agreed and we had coffee and undisturbed dialogue that night. My suspicions were confirmed—Jake had little understanding about God and the Bible. So I asked him if he’d be interested in learning more about the Bible’s message by going through the book, By this Name, with me. He replied with a simple, “Yes”. I smiled and thought to myself, “He has no idea what he has just said yes to.”
In the weeks that followed, I would pick him up from school at 3:00 p.m. every Monday, Tuesday and Friday. We would then drive around the block to a nearby custard stand where we would spend the next two hours over a pint of frozen custard. We met 13 times, covering about 25 pages each meeting. I would read and he would do the same with the verses. He really loved highlighting key points. There was never a time when he really disagreed with what he was reading. Because it seemed like he was a blank book and I was filling in the pages, I felt it was very important that I taught God's Word correctly. As the teacher, I enjoyed By this Name so much! It moved Jake straight through the Bible with the sole purpose of opening his eyes to the person and work of Jesus.
Finally, last Tuesday, we arrived at the crucial wrap-up—chapters 14 and 15. It was quite a long meeting—four hours or so. Jake was so focused on the story that he wouldn’t let me stop!
There’s a place in chapter 15 where it’s decision time (“If you believe, keep reading. . . . If you don't, skip to page . . .”). I looked at Jake and said, "What's it going to be?" He answered quickly, "Everything we've read so far has led me to say yes. . . . Let's keep reading." It wasn't a clear declaration of faith, so I re-explained the gospel and the decision that was before him. He affirmed that he believed it all to be true.
We discussed God’s promises to him if he truly does trust the Bible’s message.
In a written expression of his newfound faith, here’s how Jake explained the change that has taken place (in his own words, spelling mistakes and all):
Jake hopes to go through the By this Name with someone else, so I am praying that he gets the chance to do so in the near future.
Whether for teens or adults, GoodSeed books are great for evangelism. They give people the best possible start to their new life in Christ!
* Name has been changed