This is the second instalment in a two-part story. Read the first installment.
A Tale of Two Brothers: Jake’s Story
Paul encouraged Timothy to not “let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12 NIV)
In the following story, Jake* has modelled for me, a 30-some year-old believer, what it means to simply trust and obey the Lord as he provides opportunities to share the gospel.
Jake’s older brother, in turn, had earlier set an example for him by leading students through a simple explanation of the gospel in the schools he attended. Now, Jake is following in his brother’s footsteps, continuing to teach fellow students.
Currently in the tenth grade, Jake recently wrote to me, sharing how he got started teaching the gospel using The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus in his middle and high school Bible clubs.
“In 7th grade we had 15-25 kids come to our Bible club after school. During this time we gave out about 10 Stranger books to the kids who wanted them. Each week we asked them to read a chapter, then we would talk about it. Throughout the year I would lead a discussion on what they thought about the book or any questions they had about the book. This was very effective because I could talk to kids more one-on-one about the book and how it applies to us today.”
The following year, the school schedule changed—with an unexpected result:
“It ended up that I was teaching 90-100 kids every week. This was so unexpected that I didn’t know what to do. But what kept coming back to my mind was that you can’t over-teach the gospel. And the best, simplest way to do that was to go through The Stranger again.”
The previous year, Jake and his fellow leaders had simply given away books to those who requested them, but with numbers more than quadrupled, this was now a challenging prospect. About 50 of the students expressed interest in receiving a copy. Jake explained how the Lord provided: “God was working wonders because two teachers bought those 50 books so that each kid could get one even if they couldn’t afford it.”
“Each week we went chapter by chapter. I would read each chapter twice and take notes before teaching. Then I would go through and teach one chapter a week and every three to four weeks I would bring in a guest speaker to talk about that week’s chapter. For example, I had my brother Benjamin come in, then my dad, my uncle and local youth pastors. One of those pastors was my cousin who summed the whole book up at the end of the year.”
Jake shared that they had a good response to the teaching. A large number, made up of both believers and unbelievers, came regularly each week.
“This book is just so unique because it is a clear presentation of the gospel that is simple enough to share with middle schoolers, yet in-depth enough that an adult could learn tons from it,” Jake wrote. “One conversation I really remember was with one kid who was two years younger. He came up to me after we went through the chapter on Christ and he asked me all of these questions and he said, “I feel confident in my salvation now.”
Jake went on to add: “This book was a great tool for me during this time. I also got to use it with one of my friends; this friend was seeking something out there. He just didn’t know what it was yet. So I gave him the book and each time he read a chapter, we would talk about it and its significance.” This happened a few times, though Jake made sure his friend knew that this book simply helped us understand the Bible and in no way could replace the Bible. Jake wanted him to understand that it was God’s Word that was the important book to study. Jake went on to share, “God worked in his life and now this friend is now a youth leader at a local church.”
I asked Jake what advice he could offer to other students who might want to try something similar. In response, he wrote, “If I was to give advice to someone on how to do this, I would say just pray about it as much as possible and make sure your relationship with God is strong, then everything else will fall in place. That is what my brother always tells me. Sometimes I don’t take it to heart as much as I should but it really is so true and the biggest thing is having a relationship with God.”
Indeed, God is blessing Jake’s willingness to be obedient. Who knows the fruit yet to be harvested as God blesses the seeds planted by Jake and his brother Benjamin.
(*Names changed as per GoodSeed policy.)