Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What Are You Here For?

Years ago, I spoke in the Dominican Republic for a ministry that works with American kids struggling with behavioral problems, I addressed them several times a day during their spiritual-emphasis week.

Early in the week, I met a young student who showed me what Plan A can look like lived out.

Lance approached me after one of my teaching sessions and asked if he could talk with me. Later, he shared what had been happening in his life that week. Clearly, God was lighting a fire in his heart.

Lance explained that he entered the program not because he was rebellious or had broken the law like many of other kids. His parents asked him to enter the program so he could gain more structure and discipline in his life.

"I've gotten a lot of my time here," Lance said, "but now I'm thinking it may be time to go home. I want to help people learn more about God. Maybe I could make a bigger difference in the lives of my old friends. What do you think, Dwight?"

"You may be right," I replied. "But is it possible that God is giving you temporary assignment while you're still here? Is it posible that He wants to use you to minister to kids right here while you're with them?"

Lance's eyes lt up as I continued sharing with him a vision for his temporary assignment.

"That's it!" he suddenly exclaimed. "There is something I can do for the other kids while I'm still here! I know things about their lives, their parents don't know - stuff not even our staff knows. I'll pray for them and talk with them as God leads. Dwight, some of them are pretty messed up, I hope I can help."

Over the next few days, Lance and I chatted about his newfound purpose for the rest of his time in the Dominican Republic. I gave him a book on prayer, and we prayed together for some of the other kids his dorm - including a kid named Chris, who professed to be an atheist.

After I left the campus, Lance and I continued to write back and forth. In one letter, he wrote,

The other day, Chris announced at the dinner table that he is no longer an atheist. I have now changed my prayer from, "Lord, show Chris that you're real" to "Lord Chris needs to know you personally. Please help him make the decision to accept and follow you." The power of prayer is really strong!!!

Unfortunately, that was the last letter I received from Lance. A few weeks later, one of the program administrators called me on the phone.

"Are you sitting down?" she asked. "There's been an awful tragedy here this wek. A group of boys from one of our dormitories was swimming in the river. A flash flood suddenly swept three of the boys downstream, including Lance. We rescued two of them, but we couldn't reac Lance in time...Dwight, I'm sorry to tell you. Lance is dead."

I sat stunned silence, trying to figure out how to respond. The administrator paused for a moment to let the difficult news sink in, then continued.

"Dwight, there's one more I want to tell you. As we were cleaning out Lance's locker and sorting through his belongings, we came across some things you sent him - encouraging letters and a book about prayer. The book had highlights and notes through it. We also found his prayer journal. We're amazed at how many kids and situations he was praying for. We've been piecing together a lot of recent things that have been happening as a result of Lance's prayers."

She went on to share specific answers to prayer. Discouraged staff members ready to give up experienced new strength, joy, and purpose in their work. Students struggling for years with emotional and spiritual issues showed new signs of growth and victory. Even some of the most troubled kids experienced major breakthroughs in their attitudes and behaviors.

"We now realize that Lance prayed for those needs," she said. "And God answered his prayers! We're amazed. Single-handedly, a teenage kid impacted our program, staff, and students through his prayers."

Several weeks later I learned that five kids gave their lives to Christ at Lance's funeral. One of them was Chris, the former atheist. He had watched Lance's life more closely than anyone realized. He experienced God's love through Lance before he even believed God existed.

Chris and the other kids embraced God's love because a fellow student caught a vision for the role he could play in their lives - as one who was up close to them.

God wants to give you a vision for the role you can play in the lives of people around you - on your assembly line, in your office, your neighborhood, your dormitory, or your class at school. Perhaps He wants you to pray for their needs - becoming their first-ever prayer intercessor. Perhaps He wants you to be His agent for meeting their needs.Perhaps God wants you to be his agent for meeting their needs. Perhaps God wants you to be a living testimonial of His love and grace that they see and feel firsthand.

Lance the Student followed Jesus' example of becoming God's up-close, on-the-scene connection to the kids in his sphere of influence.

And God did the rest.

(From Dwight Robertson's "You Are God's Plan A {and there's no plan b}")

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