We had some young people get baptized at our church in a recent service. And they all had something in common – they were either current students in our Christian school, or had been students in recent years. Sarah had been expelled in 10th grade for rebellion against the school rules. She finished up by homeschooling using PACES but kept pushing to be involved in the world – boys, parties, rock music, etc. She finally moved out on her own at age 19 and reveled in the fact that she had no rules to live by and could do whatever she wanted. But according to her testimony, she was never truly happy living to fulfill her fleshly desires. She finally came home, under conviction that what she really needed was God – but she was afraid to surrender to Him. One morning, home alone, she sat down at the piano, bored, and started playing the song that was open in the hymnal. As she looked at the words, “Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling. Calling, O Sinner, come home,” the tears began to flow as she realized God had been patiently pursuing her and wanted her to be saved. She knelt by the piano bench and surrendered her life to the Lord right then and there and since then her life has been dramatically changing.
Her older sister, Abigail, had a very different testimony. She was enrolled in our school and working through the English PACES. One day she had the assignment in English to write out her testimony of how she came to Christ and was saved. She realized she had nothing to write. She had never been saved, and it began to bother her. She went home and talked with her mom about it and her mom was able to lead her to salvation.
John is a junior in our school this year. He gave his testimony at last night’s baptism as well. John was always a quiet and compliant young man. He does well academically and is a model student at school. But according to his own telling of his testimony, he struggled with submission to authority and other sins that he kept secret. At camp last summer, God really used one of the messages to bring strong conviction to John’s heart and he went to the back to seek out our Pastor and settle the matter of his salvation.
Andy is also a junior and came to our school last year after years of homeschooling. He likes the PACES and has been a very good and diligent student and has never given me any trouble at school. But in his testimony he shared that he and some of his friends wanted to do some things that were maybe not horribly wrong, but they weren’t right and totally honest either. One of his friends, Hudson, confronted him that he couldn’t be involved and keep his conscience clear with the Lord. That really got Andy thinking, “Why does that bother Hudson, but it doesn’t bother me?” He began to compare in other areas to this spiritually minded friend and kept coming up short. God began to use that to show Andy that though he was a “good kid” and in a good home, church, youth group, and Christian school, he was lacking the personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He talked more with his dad about it, did a Bible study, and God brought conviction and salvation to him.
Last year one of Christian school graduates got saved after a Thanksgiving testimony service. Two sisters who moved out of their mom’s house and away from Christian school and church in order to live with their unsaved dad and go to public school both got saved in recent months! As young adults they have been back in church faithfully and sitting with their mom who is thrilled. One just got married this summer to a great Christian young man.
Sentence sermon lessons I glean from these testimonies:
1. God is still at work today saving the lost.
2. Just because a student attends Christian school, or grows up in a good home or church does not mean that he/she is a Christian.
3. When someone is truly saved and his life changed, God can use him to impact others and cause them to thirst after a relationship with God.
4. Some young people walked away and seemed rebellious, and some in the church may have given up on them, but God still was working to bring them to repentance and salvation.
5. I’ve also observed that it’s easy to get children to say a prayer or go through a ritual to “be saved” and they may even conform and comply for a while, but there’s something about the teen years that reveals what’s really in the heart. The impure desires, rebellion against authority, and love for the world take root and soon the evidence of an unregenerate heart become evident.
6. In each of these cases there were Godly parents who were praying for their child and didn’t give up.
7. Just having kids in a Christian school does not guarantee that they will get saved or live for God, but God can use the adults, others teens, and ACE curriculum to point students to their need for Christ.
8. Our Pastor has written a good book about bringing children to salvation that I highly recommend – “Bringing Children to Christ“. We also have a four-lesson Bible study that clearly communicates what the Bible says about salvation.
The most important goal we as parents and school staff should have for our young people is not that they get a good education, get accepted into a good college, or find a lucrative career. Our goal should be to see each of them come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that changes their life and gives them true purpose and direction in life.
You might also enjoy reading: “The Danger of Growing Up Christian” (my own testimony of coming to Christ.)