Watch this. Then I’ll tell you story.
In July I traveled with 31 high school students and adults to the Christ In Youth Conference in southern Illinois. But you already knew this. What you don’t know is life change happened that week. Not just your normal teenage shenanigans and drama. But real, deep, authentic life change. How do I know?
On the last day of CIY, each student was given a card, sealed in an envelope, making it impossible for anyone to know what was written on their card. All they were told is that each card carried a specific challenge, a challenge that they must accept if they were to open the card, and a challenge that would certainly be difficult. Once the seal was broken, following through on the mysterious challenge became non-negotiable.
This was big. HUGE, actually. Emphasizing the seriousness of what God was about to do, we told the students to take at least 24 hours to think about whether or not they were truly ready to follow God wherever he might lead. Then, and only then, could they open their card.
We met the next night as a group, and again went over the stakes. We reminded them that an open card meant unwavering commitment to whatever it said. We also reminded them that God was in the middle of it, whatever “it” was. They wouldn’t be alone. Still, the decision weighed heavy. Nervous laughter, tense smiles, even a few teary eyes filled up the room. The moment of truth.
One by one, students said, “I’m ready. I want to open my card.” And one at a time we watched high school student after high school student open their card and read what was inside. Here’s a sampling:
- I will come up with a way to send 10 unchurched students to CIY next summer.
- I will give up buying clothes for myself for a year and donate the money I’d normally spend to a charity.
- I will give up driving my car for a month and take the money I’d spend on gas and donate it to Rapha House, a refuge for girls rescued from prostitution in Cambodia.
- I will fast every Wednesday for a year and pray for people who are hurting.
- I will buy lunch for one person a week for the next year with the goal of telling him/her that God loves them.
- I will raise $2,000 and build a playground in an impoverished area of our city.
- I will spend at least two weeks on a mission trip next summer.
- I will mentor a group of younger students one day/week for the next year.
I told you it was HUGE. A few times the air left the room while a student read her card. A couple people cried. It seemed overwhelming (dare I say impossible?). But within 15 minutes the buzz in the room changed from cold terror to an enthusiastic fire, and I started to hear things like “This is going to be fun” and “I can help you with your challenge” and “Wow … I can’t wait to get started.”
It’s now been going on three weeks since that night. And already the results are pouring in …
I’ll fill you in tomorrow.