I’m sure that I went to church when I was younger, but I honestly only remember going after my mom and step-dad were married. We lived out in the country and went to a church that was on a major road, but didn’t have very many people living in a close radius. The church seemed to draw quite a few people with anything between 200-350 in attendance while I was there. We went almost every Sunday, but never really participated in any of the extra services until I was maybe in 5th or 6th grade. That’s when we started going to the Wednesday evening services where we were split up by age group. We may have started going to Sunday School around this time as well.
Why is this important? Because this is when I really started to develop friendships with people who were outside of my class at school. Most of the students that attended the church also attended the same school, but some of them were in different grades, which widened the number of people I knew by quite a bit. Being an only child in a small school doesn’t exactly make you well known. If you’ve got older brothers and sisters, you’re usually set because all of their friends know who you are as well.
As I attended church and became more involved with the people there, I along with others would invite more of our friends to come. Believe it or not, they actually came and many of them got quite involved with the youth group. Sometimes it was because they were “interested” in someone in the group, or they were just looking for something fun to do. Either way, it didn’t hurt.
One of the things that would usually be a large draw were the youth retreats. We would go away for a weekend someplace (of varying distances) and do the usual youth group stuff like play games, bible study, listen to a speaker, sing, and generally hang out. I’ll never forget one of them. I have no idea what brought the course of events to where they had come, but I ended up spending quite a bit of time with one of my friends. I didn’t know her that well in comparison to other friends in my life, but we ended up having some incredibly deep discussions that weekend about Christ. I honestly don’t even know where some of the words I may have said came from.
Anyhow, Sunday rolled around and everyone went home for a while. The group was supposed to get back together for a concert Sunday evening, but unfortunately, I was so exhausted that I slept through it even though people were pounding on my door when they came to pick me up. I was told later that it was that evening my friend became a Christian. I wish I had been there, but for whatever minor part I may have played in it, I’m glad that God used me how he did.
This opened my eyes to another purpose that God had for my life. I was supposed to care about the future of others, and not necessarily their mortal future, but their eternal one. I’ve come to realize now, that I alone can’t lead someone to Jesus, but instead I play the part God puts me in. I may not even realize that I’m playing the part at the time until hours, days, or years later, but I should always be aware that no matter where I am, I could be used by God at any moment.