Monday, January 21, 2013

The first step is always the Tony C

Stepping out on faith can be a scary think for Christians. True? I mean...we truly bleieve what we say we believe, yet there are those moments when letting go to God seems like great advise for others but only them. This week your Kingdom Bloggers are sharing personal stories of stepping out on faith and how those situations turned out for each of us.

I don't think it's a secret I have a passion to minister to young people. To be honest, that's what really got me started into blogging a few years back. I felt God tugging at me to share my story with young people. After fooling around with a website call Stick with Jesus for about a year, I realized that I was technically in over my head and stepped back to focus on a smaller, more localized scale. I was thinking Charles Stanley scale and apparently God was looking more on the level of Bill Warden (who had been my spiritual mentor at church as an older teenager).

God put me where He needed me. For over two years, I've been teaching a college-aged Sunday School class at church. It's a group that extends past the 12 or so that attend regularly on Sunday mornings to a number around 25 that I maintain regular contact with each week. Perfect situation.

My passion for this group is born from a period of falling from the path at their very age in my own life. Sadly, that is the norm and not the exception. Statistic show that over 70% of young people will leave the church before the age of 23. That's an absolutely heartbreaking statistic for any Christian, but I know from personal experience just how devastating being in that statistic is for the young person who falls. Loneliness. Fear. Anxiety. Joylessness. It's all there. Worse yet...those states lead to depression, alcohol and drug use, promiscuity and denial.

I'm going to get real personal for just a minute. I cry for these 25 young people I feel God has charged me with...on a daily basis. I cry, pray, text, Facebook message, tweet, Heytell...then call and pray some more. Daily. I constantly walk a fine line between being available and being intrusive. Concerned and not condescending. Loving and not judgmental.

I have my own teenager entering the statistical danger zone in less than a year. She's a great kid with a lousy sense of choice-making from time to time. Just like I was at her age. God has charged me as a father to provide a pious example to my be a leader. But I know in my heart it will take more. My mother is a godly women who, without a doubt, spent countless hours praying for her black sheep. I'm very thankful for that fact, but I know it so often takes more.

Young people need mentors. Someone to take an active interest in their life for no other reason than the love of Jesus. Mom and dad love you because...well...they're mom and dad. But a person outside the family is a completely different component in helping keep up a young person's self-esteem and focus on the business of the Kingdom. The big picture stuff that truly matters on an eternal scale.

Naturally, I would love for my circle of influence to expand beyond a few dozen at a time, but that is not for me to decide. Maybe God has a single young person in His plan for me that through my efforts of shining His light...that young person comes to know Him much closer. To go on and make a difference for the Kingdom. The thought brings tears to my eyes and fills my heart with a great joy.

Until I hear otherwise from Him though, I'm going to treat each and every young person in my charge as potentially that one, single soul. Please remember our young people in your prayers today.


Tracy said...

Tony, I so agree with you that young people need people of faith who aren't their parents to invest in them. I'm grateful for the people like you who God brought into my sons' lives.

Lin Maynard said...

I so love your heart.
As I read what you wrote, I wanted to cry too.
I was just thinking of a young man...son of a friend...falling away...going deeper deeper down and at one time this young man held such promise...had such fervor LORD!!! WE CALL THE PRODIGALS HOME.
I sense we are to say their name out loud ________...come home!!!!
And yes Lord raise up those men and women like Tony who put their foot down , so to speak, and have invested into the lives of these young men and women. I thank God for you are so right on in being invested into their live...right where you are