by Scott Rosene, former After-School Coordinator, Wanganui Youth for Christ (New Zealand)
When Kyle (name changed for privacy) was in school, he was quite the handful. About 15 years ago, I was helping to run an after school drop-in center in New Zealand that doubled as a Youth for Christ office during the day. Some rooms were off-limits. Kyle liked to spend his time in those. Computers had software on them to block access to inappropriate sites. Kyle was one of the first to disable it. We had specific hours that we were open. Kyle usually arrived early and stayed as late as he could. If I recall correctly, Kyle even got in a few fights. A bit on the heavy side, and no-doubt bullied most of his life because of this, Kyle learned he had the size and strength to be a bully as he got older.
Almost every youth group I’ve ever been a part of — whether as a teen or as a youth leader — has what one of my youth ministry trainers used to call “EGRs”: Extra Grace Required. I’ll admit, I was tempted on more than one occasion to kick Kyle out and just tell him he couldn’t come back anymore. It would have made life a whole lot easier. There were times after devotionals, during which Kyle and several other kids like him did nothing but mock or ignore what was being shared from God’s Word, that I wondered “God, why are we even wasting time on these kids?”
But God knew what I hoped in my heart of hearts was true: “...my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11) And one of my favorites: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
I was recently reminded that “the proper time” of God’s harvest may often be well past what we think it should be. For so many of my former kids, it no doubt came (or will come) without me even knowing it.
I got a random Facebook friend request from Kyle last month. After accepting, I got a message: “Hey Scott. Not sure if you remember me…” I assured him I did, we caught up a bit (I learned he has a 4-year-old son now), and then the question: “I’m trying to get closer to God but I don’t know how to.”
It has been my privilege once again to point Kyle to Jesus. He’s praying. He’s seeing God work miracles in the life of his family. Kyle and Jesus have it from here.
I hope Kyle’s story encourages you. Perhaps you’ve all but given up hope on someone. “They’ll never change,” you say. “I’ve prayed and shared and cried and given all I can and they’re no closer now than they were when I started.” God hears your prayers. His word will accomplish what He desires. A harvest will be reaped. Don’t give up.
Thank you for dollars, energy, prayers and time you’ve invested in supporting Youth for Christ. Perhaps at times you’ve wondered, “What is God doing through this ministry?” God is still harvesting from seeds that were sown dozens of years ago. Let’s trust together that He will continue to do so even as we sow more seeds of faith.