A Teen Gang in The Little Red Schoolhouse

Unfortunately, this year, due to Covid 19,  our community will not host a county fair.   But here is an unforgettable memory from volunteering in the past:

* * *

I was enjoying my shift at the county fair’s Little Red Schoolhouse when ten cursing teenagers walked by.  Dressed in black, sporting tats, skin piercings and strange hair, they passed by several times—joking, uttering profanities and yelling insults.

I smiled and invited them to hear a Bible story. They cursed and walked away laughing. Twenty minutes later they returned.  Still laughing, they burst INSIDE the LRS and sat down!  Whoa!

I knew the planned Bible story was not going to cut it with this group!  I decided to talk about sin. Most of them didn’t recognize the word!  I explained, “Sin is something we do, we say or we think, that’s wrong—that offends God.  Can you give me an example of a sin?”

Silence.  Unfortunately, many kids today are unchurched and know nothing of the Ten Commandments, so they have no frame of reference.

Finally, a boy spoke up, “Flipping someone off?”

I said, “Well, uh, yes, I suppose that would be sin.”

“Is it a sin to cut up a dead rat and put it in someone’s food?” said another.

“Yes, definitely.”

A girl blurted out, “Having sex before you’re married?”

Immediately the others chimed in, “No, there’s nothing wrong with that!”

I said, “Yes there is!  Sex outside marriage is sin.”

Their voices were murmuring, “It is?  I didn’t know that.”

I explained, “The Bible tells us we are ALL sinners.  Jesus was the only person who ever lived who never sinned.  Did you know that?”  They didn’t.

“Think how difficult that would be. Yet Jesus refused to sin because He knew if He sinned one time He could not be the required sinless sacrifice for OUR sins. You see, that is the reason He came to earth—so He could die for us and open heaven’s doors so we could freely enter.

“Jesus loves us even though He knows we are all sinners and we cannot save ourselves. None of us can ever get into Heaven unless we have a Savior—and there’s only one.”

Some of these kids had never heard of Jesus, except as a swear word. They didn’t know He died on a cross! I asked, “Do you know what happened three days after Jesus died?”

Silence.

“He rose from the dead.”

One boy exclaimed, “No way! I never heard that!”

I said, “We have a holiday every year when we celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Who knows what holiday that is?”

Silence.

Then one guessed “Christmas?”

I said, “It’s Easter.”

“No way! I never heard that!”

“Did you think Easter was just a day to celebrate bunnies and candy?

Silence.

Since these kids looked as if they might be gang members, I talked about Satan, heaven and hell.  I explained that hell is real. “Jesus talked more about hell than He did heaven. Yet the Bible tells us we don’t have to go there.  We can be saved from hell. The Bible tells us there is only one name under heaven that can save us.  Do you know what that name is?”

Silence.

I said, “It’s the name Jesus.  Jesus is so powerful that even His name frightens Satan. Satan has power, but Jesus is much more powerful than Satan. If you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation, remember to call out on the name of Jesus. There is more power in Jesus’ name than in any weapon. The Bible says that when we submit to Christ and resist the devil, he will flee.”

The kids were sitting on the edge of their seats. This was information they could use!

“BUT, and this is important:  You must first be willing to turn away from your sin and surrender your life to Jesus.  You must be willing to let Him take control of your actions and be your Master and Lord. Is that hard to do?  Yes! It’s hard to let someone other than yourself, control your life. But once you do it God will reward you with peace, joy and power to live a life that pleases Him.”

Several of those teenagers were willing to take the step that day. They prayed aloud to receive Jesus, and they left that schoolhouse with hope.  An hour later one boy returned, popped his head in the door and said, “Hey Teacher, I’m now a new person on the inside, aren’t I.”

I smiled,  “Yes you are.”

  • For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.     Luke 19:10        
  • For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.     Romans 3:23      
  • God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.    Romans 5:8  
  • Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.    Acts 4:12
  • Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.   James 4:7
  • SONG:  SEVEN TIMES A DAY – Words from Scripture (Ps.119 and 2 Thess. 3:6)  Music by Kathleen 
    [This life is temporary. This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:   http://www.godlife.com/gospel/  and  http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity

    [To leave a comment or prayer request, simply click on the TITLE of this post and scroll to the bottom.]

Posted in Child Evangelism Fellowship, DOCTRINE, HERE & THERE, Love & Romance, PRAYER WORKS, RAISING KIDS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Come With Me To Bible Study!

I began walking with a new neighbor, Anne-Marie.  On our second walk I invited her to Bible study. She said she’d never been to a Bible study before, but perhaps it might be good for her. Three days later she was sitting next to me in our new study on the life of David.

Typically, the morning begins with worshiping God in song and prayer, followed by a video lecture on our week’s lesson. Then we disperse to our discussion groups of about 15 women each, to discuss our homework. This part is such fun because the Holy Spirit speaks to each of us differently and one woman may share something that blesses another. Every six weeks each small group has a coffee/brunch at someone’s home.  Here we get encouraged and better acquainted as we share highlights of how the study of God’s Word is making a difference in our lives.

Anne-Marie was thoroughly enjoying this new experience and had given her life to Jesus from the very start. One day while walking she said, “It seems that several of the women in our group are involved in different types of ministries. Some have even been missionaries! Should I be doing a ministry?”

I said, “Anne-Marie, you already have a ministry.”
“I do?”
“Yes. You said your husband is not yet a follower of Jesus.  You have other family members who are not saved.  Your family is your ministry now. You concentrate on praying for them, loving them and little by little sharing with them what God is doing in your life.”

“Oh good—I can do that! I was thinking I needed to plan a mission trip or something.”

“Your mission trip has already started. We let our light shine wherever we are—first with our families and then with others.”

Three weeks later I saw Anne-Marie and her husband in church! Today they are actively serving God. God is faithful.

  •  Jesus said…Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing.     John 14:12a
  •  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.     John 3:17-18
  • SONG: MY FRIENDLyrics by D.J. Higgins, Music by Kathleen

 

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Teen: I’m Ready This Time!

Another memory from my years doing prison ministry:

I had some precious teenagers that night at the juvenile hall.  One 17-year-old said he remembered me from the last time he was incarcerated: “You asked me then if I wanted Christ in my life and I told you I wasn’t ready.  Well, I’m ready this time!”

He was arrested just four nights ago and said the arrest probably saved his life.  He believes God brought him back for a reason.

“I believe God has His hand on my life, and I love Him for that. I used to think I wasn’t good enough to become a Christian—that I had to clean up my life first.  Now I realize I cannot clean up my life on my own. I need to come to Christ first and let HIM clean me up.”

YES young man, that is the ONLY way!

  •  Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us,  set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.     2 Corinthians 1:21-22
  • SONG:  INWARD TRIALSLyrics by John Newton (circa 1779) Music by Kathleen
[This life is temporary. This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:   http://www.godlife.com/gospel/  and  http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity

[To leave a comment or prayer request, simply click on the TITLE of this post and scroll to the bottom.]

 

Posted in DOCTRINE, JAIL & COUNTY JUVENILE FACILITY, PEOPLE | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Palm Reader – “I Can’t Read You”

It was over ten years ago that Pam began seeing a palm reader.  She had a standing appointment with her reader every month.   Then a friend invited her to church.

Pam had never been to church and thought it might be interesting.  The message that Sunday touched her heart and she thought about it all week.  The following Sunday she returned and for the first time recognized she had done some wrong things in her life and was guilty before God.  She prayed and asked God to forgive her sins and then she made a decision to surrender her life to Jesus Christ.

Not only was she forgiven, she was saved for all eternity.  She began thinking differently about life situations and experienced a new peace and joy she’d never before known.

A week later she met with her palm reader for her scheduled appointment.  This time it was different.

“I’m not getting a reading for you, Pam.  Something’s happened. Something’s different and I can’t read you.  I’m sorry.”

Later Pam mentioned to her Christian friend that for the first time in over ten years, her reader could not get a reading.  “I wonder why.”

Her friend was surprised. “You go to a palm reader?  You may not know this, but God forbids His people from seeking counsel or information from mediums.  If your reader could not give you a reading, it’s because God’s Holy Spirit now indwells you and is protecting you.  It’s a good thing.  Besides, we have God’s Word, the Bible, to lead us in the way we should go.  His Word tells us all we need to know about the future.  God simply wants us to trust Him.”

  • Do not practice divination or seek omens.   Leviticus 19:26b
  • Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.   Leviticus 19:31
  • Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,  for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6:34
[This life is temporary. This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:   http://www.godlife.com/gospel/  and  http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity

[To leave a comment or prayer request, simply click on the TITLE of this post and scroll to the bottom.]

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Dial-A-Story for Kids

Our kids enjoyed talking on the phone when they were small.  Years ago children could Dial-A-Story and listen to a recorded Bible story provided by Child Evangelism Fellowship. The story changed weekly.

I used to have Dial-A-Story and its phone number taped to our phone. The children and their friends would frequently dial and listen.  When the story ended a recording gave an additional phone number kids could call if they had questions. Aunt Hazel would be there to talk with them.

One day I called Aunt Hazel to introduce myself and express my appreciation for what she was doing.

She explained that she was 88-years old and didn’t get out much anymore, but she could still talk on the phone.  She said it was her greatest joy to talk with the youngsters who called. Often her callers were teenagers with questions about life and death issues.

One day our 7-year-old daughter came to me and confessed that she and her friend had secretly called Aunt Hazel. She said she felt guilty because they had pretended they didn’t know anything about Jesus. They allowed her to tell them about Jesus and pray with them—even though they were already Christians.

I said I was glad she told me what she’d done, but she needs to call and apologize to Aunt Hazel herself.  She was too embarrassed and ashamed and begged me to call for her. I finally relented and called while she listened at my side.

Aunt Hazel said she remembered the girls and knew all along that they were playing a game. Of course she forgave them—and enjoyed their call immensely.

Aunt Hazel served the Lord her entire adult life. She said she never wanted to live to be 100.  She died at 99.  The Lord answered her prayer.

  • Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.           Romans 12:11
  • Learn what Child Evangelism Fellowship is doing worldwide:   https://www.cefonline.com/
  • SONG: I LOVE THE LORDby Kathleen
    [This life is temporary. This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:   http://www.godlife.com/gospel/  and  http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity

    [To leave a comment or prayer request, simply click on the TITLE of this post and scroll to the bottom.]

 

Posted in Child Evangelism Fellowship, DOCTRINE, PEOPLE, RAISING KIDS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Talking About Jesus – On a Plane

I was sitting next to a man on a plane—said his name was Bill.  It was a short, one-hour flight. I was a new Christian and wanted to share the Lord with him. But what would I say? Whatever I thought to say seemed awkward.

So I prayed, “Lord, it’s hard to enter into a conversation about You. Help me get started and help me say the right thing.  Help me to… JUST DO IT.”

Even after praying I still didn’t have the words, so I opened my small travel Bible and started reading.

To my surprise, Bill started the conversation! “How can you read such fine print?”

I explained, “It amazes me too, that I can read small print without glasses.  I only need my glasses for distance vision.” Then I thought, “Why am I talking about my eyes!  Lord, help me! This is not going well!”

Next I said something really stupid.  “But I just love my little Bible!”
Immediately I thought, “Now I blew it!  He thinks I’m a nut.”

Then Bill said, “What’s the Bible about, anyway?”

I couldn’t believe my ears! “Thank You Lord!”

I said, “I have discovered the most important information about life is in the Bible. I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ from studying the Bible, and knowing Him has changed my life. He has given me peace, joy and love that I never knew was possible.”

He seemed interested, so I offered him a little booklet called Would You Like to Know God Personally? by Bill Bright. He read it and afterward asked if he could take and share it with his wife.

I did not lead Bill to the Lord, but I believe a seed was planted.

My point?  We should not be afraid of saying something stupid, because we often will!  Yet it doesn’t matter. God will still use it!  Step out in faith—and JUST DO IT!

  • For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”    John 6:40
  • http://www.cru.org/how-to-know-god/would-you-like-to-know-god-personally.html
  • SONG: ONLY ONE LIFE – Music and arrangement by Kathleen
    [This life is temporary. This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:   http://www.godlife.com/gospel/  and  http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity

    [To leave a comment or prayer request, simply click on the TITLE of this post and scroll to the bottom.]

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No Becomes YES!

Another precious memory from jail ministry:

Remember Jose, the 20-year-old who came to Christ at the county jail?  His cellmate was Stephen,  an angry young man.

Every week I would talk with Jose through the small pass-through opening in his door. I could see Stephen quietly reading on his bunk.  I’d say “Hey Stephen!” and invite him to join us.  Sometimes I’d ask if I could pray for him. Consistently he’d mumble, “No.”  Yet I often felt he was listening to us.

One evening after six months, Stephen was waiting at the door when I arrived.  He said, “I have a question.  I’m reading about Judaism.  Can you tell me the difference between Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews?”

I didn’t have a clue!   But I’d try to find an answer. The next week he was again waiting and I explained what I learned.  “Sephardic Jews are those from Spain, Portugal, North Africa and the Middle East and their descendants.  Ashkenazic Jews are those from France, Germany  and Eastern Europe and their descendants. Most American Jews today are Ashkenazic.”

He thanked me and had another question:  “I’ve been reading about the religion of the ancient Egyptians. What do you know about Isis, Osiris and Horus?” Again, I returned home and did more research. We continued this way for weeks and with every question Stephen asked, I learned more and more myself!

One evening he said, “I’ve been reading the Bible and I believe Jesus is not only the Son of God, I now believe He is God the Son.  I want to give Him my life.”

I said, “Stephen, you have been searching for truth for some time now. I believe God Himself has revealed this truth to you.”  We prayed together and his tears flowed freely—as did mine!

Meanwhile Jose was in the background and joined in praising God and cheering Stephen on.  “I knew you were close!  I KNEW it!”

Stephen’s born again experience was genuine. He was no longer angry, but had peace and joy that was evident to all.  A few weeks later he was transferred to a state prison where he promptly enrolled in Crossroad Prison Ministry’s  correspondence course for prisoners. He continues his study of God’s Word today.

  • But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.    Deuteronomy 4:29
  • The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.     Lamentations 3:25-26
  •  For more information on Crossroad Prison Ministry see:  https://cpministries.org/
  •  SONG:  GIVE ME A HEARTLyrics by Liana Wendy Howarth; Music by Kathleen

    [This life is temporary. This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:   http://www.godlife.com/gospel/  and  http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity

    [To leave a comment or prayer request, simply click on the TITLE of this post and scroll to the bottom.]

 

Posted in DOCTRINE, JAIL & COUNTY JUVENILE FACILITY, Other Religions | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

One-Year-Old Prisoner!

Another precious memory from my years doing jail ministry:

Jose was a prisoner with diabetes I visited nearly every week.  He was housed in the medical section of county jail and came to Christ at the age of 20.  I remember praying with him that day and afterward telling him to remember the date.

I said, “This is the most important day of your life—for all eternity.  Someday, if God were to ask you, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven?’  You could say, ‘I don’t deserve heaven, but way back on December 23, 20__ I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. He purchased my salvation on the cross and forgave all my sins.'”

Jose became a model prisoner and an incredible student of the Bible. He diligently completed the weekly Bible study provided by the chaplain’s office. In addition, he began outlining the Bible and would write a summary of every chapter he read. He was faithful to his journaling and weekly would share with me what he’d learned.

One evening I arrived for our weekly Bible study and he announced, “Today is my birthday!”

I said, “What? I thought you turned 21 last month!”

He said, “Last year, two days before Christmas,  you prayed with me when I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ.  It was the most important day of my life— for all eternity.  Today I’m one-year-old in the Lord.”

[This life is temporary. This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:   http://www.godlife.com/gospel/  and  http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity

[To leave a comment or prayer request, simply click on the TITLE of this post and scroll to the bottom.]

 

 

Posted in DOCTRINE, Holidays, JAIL & COUNTY JUVENILE FACILITY, PEOPLE | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Teen’s Baptism Experience

As an online missionary with GMO (Global Media Outreach), most of my contacts are from overseas—but not all. “Grace” is a delightful 15-year-old from New Jersey, who has been growing in her faith. Recently she expressed a desire to be baptized. She enjoys writing, so I encouraged her to write about her baptism:

This was quite a moving day. I heard the sermon but didn’t listen closely.  I heard important things that got me through the day: “You are forgiven…Jesus loves you…He died for you.”  I paced down the stairs as people were patting my back, “Go for it!” I knew I was ready.

We stood in a circle. The person next to me was trembling. One of the pastors was on my other side with his caring hand on my shoulder. They told me I would go first. I started getting nervous but my excitement built up.

Before I knew it I was in the warm, reassuring water. All the people I loved and that were with me throughout my life were around me, watching. I was kind of confused on what to do because everyone else had something ready to say but they told me not to do that. I know my face showed what I was feeling and thinking.

All of sudden, “Have you given your life to Jesus?”
“Yes.”
“Do you want to show all these people here that you have decided to follow Him?”
“Yes!”
As they were getting ready to put me under water my heart stopped, and started beating slower again, as I thought it was symbolizing that I was showing everyone I was being born again. I took one last glimpse at my old life, pinched my nose, and fell back. My mind went through my life in an instant: everything I ever did wrong, everything I was disappointed in. Then it was gone. My brain cleared under water in serenity. My past vanished. All I heard was the water whoosh once.

I took his hand as I broke through the water. I felt a new kind of wind kiss my face as I pushed against the old water. I rubbed my eyes, clearing all the blurriness and seeing the people cheer joyfully.

I walked back up the slippery stairs. They prayed for me. I was shaky now. God had come over me but He was too amazing. My brain couldn’t understand and will never be able to understand why He died for me, why He loves me. Tears started rolling down my face. I was scared, but glad I had decided to follow Him. Best decision of my life! He is HOLY.

I walked back to the bathroom to dry up. I leaned against the wall in the last stall, closed my eyes as I let all the tears fall for Him. I knew He would catch each storming tear as I prayed thanking Him for every little thing since I came into this new life. I praised Him for everything.  My lips mouthing thank you, thank you, thank you Lord!   YOU are HOLY.

  • I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.   Psalm 34:1
  • Learn more about GMO (Global Media Outreach) at www.godlife.com
  • SONG: AT THE FEET OF JESUSLyrics by Liana Wendy Harwarth; Music by Kathleen

    [This life is temporary. This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:   http://www.godlife.com/gospel/  and  http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity

    [To leave a comment or prayer request, simply click on the TITLE of this post and scroll to the bottom.

 

 

Posted in GLOBAL MEDIA OUTREACH, PEOPLE | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Does Prayer Work?

My friend Crystal sent out an urgent prayer request via email. Her adult son is afflicted with severe tinnitus—ringing in the ears.  He is not a follower of Jesus.

John’s tinnitus began three years ago, but at this time it’s so loud he can’t concentrate or hear himself talk. It keeps him up at night and is affecting his work. Doctors cannot make it go away. The noise is so loud he has become depressed and said he wanted “to end his life.”

Crystal was so desperate to help him she sent out a plea for prayer. I began praying as did many others.

Four days later Crystal sent out a blanket email to all her praying friends.  Her son John had called:

“Mom, something has happened in the past three days that has left me feeling so much better emotionally… I don’t know what it is…all I can tell you is that I know I can keep on fighting.   Since there is no cure available, it’s clear I have to live with this for now…but the blackness that was swallowing me is gone. Even my boss observed that I came into work on Tuesday with my head lifted and my eyes clear. The ringing is off the charts, but I have new strength to deal with it. I can’t tell you what happened, Mom, but I am able to breathe again.”

Is prayer powerful? The tinnitus is still there! God didn’t remove it!  Yet John has changed.

  • Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.    Psalm 107:28
  • SONG: I Love the Lord – By Kathleen

    [This life is temporary. This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:   http://www.godlife.com/gospel/  and  http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity

    [To leave a comment or prayer request, simply click on the TITLE of this post and scroll to the bottom.]

Posted in PEOPLE, PRAYER WORKS | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments