Have you ever had a lingering memory of an experience that changed your life? I have a moment in time that seems forever frozen in my memory archives.
A few years ago Jane and I founded a ministry called “The Garage Student Ministries”. It was meant to reach a certain group of youth who were interested in motorsports and needed guidance in life.
The ministry worked well and before long we had a group of teens who loved mechanics and racing. We were bringing these kids to mission raceway as a Friday night outing in the Spring and Summer months ~ and did I mention we had a racecar for them to help out with ~ it was a smash hit.
Between the events and group gatherings I’d spend a good amount of time life coaching and mentoring those who wanted help. One evening I was walking down a street talking about hopes and dreams with this student when I felt the Lord prompt me to share the story of Jesus and His love for humanity. As we walked I told him the story of the Bible and God’s plan for mankind, I kept it simple to the point and yet I really wanted to be obedient to the Spirits leading.
When I was done there was a silence for a bit, he then thanked me for sharing and said he has only one question… I thought I was ready for anything ~ but what happened next changed me forever.
He asked, “If I don’t believe what you believe will you still be my friend?”
I was stunned! Here I thought this is where we close the deal as the evangelism classes were racing through my head. I had just entered a new territory that was seldom discussed in Christendom, what do you do if someone says no thanks to your belief system but really still wants to be friends?
Today is years later, and it still replays in my head like a reoccurring video loop, just to remind me about my motives when it comes to friendships. I have to admit I had to be really intentional about my following connections with this fellow.
A few probing questions I ask myself once in a while:
- Can I have authentic friendships with those who don’t believe what I do?
- Will I invest in people even if they don’t agree with me?
- What does it mean for people to love the Jesus they experience in me but reject my verbal description of salvation?
- Maybe Christ in me (you) is more powerful than I thought?
I often have more questions than answers. Ultimately I desire for everyone to have a personal encounter with the Savior I love and sometimes people do and yet … they can choose to not engage in the way I anticipate … our challenge is to truly love unconditionally.
We at East Gate hope you are encouraged by some of our reflections. These are often day to day experiences of our lives that happen to jump out of our heads onto the screens of publicity. In it all we celebrate you and applaud the courage it takes to live your dream!
Passion may not be enough to fulfill our dreams ~ but it sure helps!