One of the ways I celebrated my “31st” last week was by traveling down to Wilson, NC to speak at an area youth event, organized by one of my former youth students, Auston Jones (who I’m so proud of for having the courage to step out and go after something like this for his high-school senior project) and one of my best friends, Stephen Combs, who is the Worship/Youth Pastor at Wilson Community Church. The event drew students from 9 counties and was focused toward challenging teenagers toward a life of sexual abstinence and spiritual freedom. I was honored to be invited as the speaker for the evening and to rejoin so many of my friends in Wilson. (Special thanks to my friends at WAYnet (Wilson Area Youth Network) for sponsoring the event)
It was especially exciting to have my dad with me – although I have to admit I was nervous when he told me he wanted to go with me. I made sure he was aware that I would be talking to a few hundred teenagers about SEX and that I might say some things that would cause him to feel a bit uncomfortable…but he went anyway, and I’m so glad he did!
I was amazed to watch how God moved that evening and was blown away that He would invite me into such an awesome opportunity. The main point of my talk for the evening was to communicate to students God’s heart for them; not to talk to them about a whole bunch of stuff that God is against, but instead to paint a picture of all He’s for – our lives, our futures, our best interest, a better life than we or anyone else could ever dream up for ourselves. You see, I believe if we could ever really believe that God truly has our best interest at heart that it would radically draw us into a life of repentance and purity. But like the first man and first woman, somewhere in the midst of life, we believe God is holding out on us and we simply aren’t going to wait on Him for a better future. So my desire was for these kids to hear God’s heart for them, perhaps getting a fresh perspective on who He truly is and to know that He is for us.
At the end of my talk, I had two students from Fike High School approach me who just wanted to say how much they enjoyed the talk. One of them indicated that he was an atheist, and though he didn’t believe the same way I did, how refreshing it was to hear a different perspective on God. I was later told that he and his friend were asking middle-schoolers around them to be quiet so they could hear what was being said. Wow. I’m praying God will ultimately capture these guys hearts and that His word would be ‘sealed’ and grown like a seed deep within them… Amazing.
Perhaps the most amazing part of the evening was what I heard the following day – that 103 students had indicated they desired to live a life of sexual abstinence and that 41 students had accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives as well! I was and still am blown away…especially with the fact that I didn’t really give an invitation or a call-to-commitment at the end of my talk! For me, it was just a refreshing reminder that when we allow God room to work, what amazing things He can truly accomplish through us! For those of you who know me, I do everything I can to downplay numbers, but as my friend Frank Bishoff would say, every person counts as one in God’s kingdom…and for that I’m thankful.
The night before I spoke, I asked my brothers at Awaken to pray over me for the empowering and anointing of God’s Spirit, not so that I would be successful as a speaker, but so that God heart and His voice would be heard loud, simple and clear through me. Thanks, brothers! I certainly feel that prayer was answered in a powerful way.
There are few things in life that could give me such satisfaction, and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my birthday…
- Please continue to pray for the students who made decisions that evening and for the adults and youth workers who care so much for them, that they’d have the wisdom and courage to follow-up with them.
- Also, send Auston Jones a word of encouragement by clicking here…
- See another posting of this event at GaryCombs.org (Thankful for Partnership)