My friend, Jacob, is currently leading a vacation Bible school for the Armenian Evangelical Brotherhood Church in Scarborough. He asked me to come a share my testimony on Friday with the kids (a mixture of teens and junior highers) and to share about the Gospel.
I shared how I never really had much joy in Jesus and in the Gospel for most of my life. Though I grew up in a Christian home, I found church to be boring for the most part. I did not really want to go. However, I went, and I had a sort of faith in the Gospel, at least to a certain degree, but it was a type of faith that did not produce much joy in Christ. I simply did not have much delight in the Gospel nor in the person of Jesus. Eventually I sought joy in sports, girls, alcohol, drugs, popularity and success.
I shared with the kids that, like Israel, I had “committed two evils.” I had forsaken the Lord, who is the fountain of living waters; and secondly, I had hewed out broken cisterns for myself, cisterns which hold no water. I taught them that the way to true joy and life is found in Jesus Christ and in his Gospel.
We looked at Galatians 3:1-2. We learned that the way to receive the Spirit is by faith in the Gospel (not just initially, but also in an ongoing manner). Thereafter, we saw that one of the fruits of the Spirit is joy. Accordingly, the way to get more joy is not by working harder, but by ongoing faith in the Gospel. The Spirit works in conjunction with such faith and produces this joy. Thus, faith in Christ and his Gospel is the way to real delight! I pleaded with them to go to Christ for real life, joy and pleasure.
Afterwards, I talked to one of the teens for a while (i think he is in grade 10). I asked him if he were to die today whether he thought God would accept him or reject him. He said, “He would reject me.” I said, “why do you think he’d reject you?” He said, “Because I do not have real joy in Christ or in the Gospel.” The context of our conversation indicated that he meant, “I do not know of this joy at all; thus, I do not think that I have saving faith.” I asked him if he was afraid, or concerned or nervous about this. He said that he was concerned about his current state. He seemed to be genuinely sobered.
I tried to explain the Gospel to him and I felt like I was just confusing him. He may have benefited from something I said, but I felt as though I was scatter-brained and speaking without simplicity and clarity. I was frustrated with my own lack of simplicity. I was stuggling to know exactly what to say.
Accordingly, I went to John 6:28-29 and read: “what must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him who he has sent.” Letting Scripture speak for itself seemed to be the most effective thing I did. He seemed to get these words. I told him that Jesus is alive and reigning and that he ought to seek Christ and to call out to him. I took him to Mark 1:15. We considered Jesus’ command for all to “repent and believe in the gospel.” Thus, turning to Christ is not simply an option, but it is the command of the King of kings.
He seemed truly sobered. Jacob has already had good talks with him. Jacob will continue to work with him and preach Christ to him. Please pray for him and please pray for Jacob; he has asked for prayer, that he (and the other workers) would be more and more loving and Christ-like as they work with the youth. Next week they plan to have around 50-60 some odd kids at their vacation Bible school!
I am thanking the Lord for the opportunity to serve the Armenian Evangelical Brotherhood Church. There were 11 kids there, most of whom come from Coptic or Catholic homes.