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FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: When a young person asks, “Will you help?”

Good week to all: Welcome to the “front porch.”

One of the best parts of evangelism is that occasional opportunity to sit down with a young person and hear their story. In my own cases, the youngsters usually seem to be in their 20s – a key stretch in life, for sure – and they are searching for something: That “something” is themselves. You understand.

They are in a place where they are facing the prospect of a hundred tricky turns in the road. And, now, they’ve chosen you to help navigate them through. That’s when you look up to the Lord, and say, “Lord, are you sure you’ve got the right person for this job?”

You can’t help but be amazed at such a person for placing some confidence you. Usually, I’ve found, they have an uncanny degree of wisdom that they probably do not realize they have. You are honored the entire time you listen to their detailed view of life from their 20-something-year-old vantage point. And you can’t help but wonder at the strength of character that you see sitting just across from you.

We never know what brings a person to that unique place; but it is easy to sense a degree of desperation. Desperation, overall, is not a bad thing. It is often what leads a sinner to a seeking of salvation. The jailor of old only comes to salvation’s door only after the apostle Paul saves him from a tragic and untimely death. It is then he lays down all of his pride and self-sufficiency and cries out humbly to the preacher, “Tell me what must I do to be saved?” Such a man, you see, comes to that point because he has nowhere else to turn. And what better man to whom to turn than the one you had just heard engaging in a midnight prayer and singing revival!

So it is with a young person who comes to you with the unspoken question, “Can you help me?” The fact they were willing to come at all tells you that this person likely will figure it out, with the Lord’s help. When the interview starts, and you say, “Tell me your story,” you can expect an autobiographical journey that will lead you up slowly, step by step, to the highest mountain and then plunge you down into a deep valley. That, you see, is the way of life. The more you listen, the more you wonder at this young one’s unique and sincere hungering and thirsting after righteousness. You are glad to know that the Lord promises bountiful blessings upon one who has such desire (Matthew 5:6).

There comes a point in the visit, however, when that long life-story narrative will wind down. They will slow their mile-a-minute story down to a crawl, look at you with a wry smile and a chuckle, and say something to the effect of, “Well, there’s my life story. It’s kind of a mess, isn’t it?”

You suddenly realize it’s your turn; so, you swallow hard and try to gather your quick thoughts together. Perhaps you will assure them that their life really isn’t nearly as bad of a mess as they think. It is just life. Life tends to do the very things they had just described in living color. From their vantage point, it looks hopeless. But you can assure them that the Lord really does have an answer for you, likely just around the next curve in the road.

But, even after those assures, you likely will find that your young friend still sits across from you looking at you with puppy-dog eyes. You know you are not through yet. They are not satisfied. So, you go on to lay out a few practical things they need to do to begin the process of finding a solution. You are careful not to get preachy. You’ve done well so far, just by listening emphatically to their sad story. You know there is seldom a quick fix; and you've been determined not to come across trite or cliché-ish.

So, what more can you say?

Then it hits you. It is no magic pill that you take and everything’s okay in the morning. But there is a place, perhaps, that you can go to help give your friend some much-needed hope. So, you open with, “Now, I have something else to share with you,” as if you’ve known just what it was all along. And you delve right into a discussion of the the very best you know to offer, something you feel they will have to come to understand if they are going to find peace down in their dim, uncertain valleys.

“Here is the best place I know to take you,” you say, and then you begin to lay out this story…

(Lord willing, we’ll share the rest of that visit next week, here on the “front porch.”)

Coach Steven Bowen, a long-time Red Oak teacher and coach, now enjoys his time as a full-time writer and preacher of the gospel. In addition to his evangelistic travels, he works and writes for the Church of Christ of Red Oak at Uhl Road and Ovilla. Their worship times are 10 a.m. Sundays and 7:30 pm. Wednesdays. Email or call or text 972-824-5197.

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