For the past few months, both volunteers and teens at Youth Extreme have been reading the book of Matthew. This book is interesting because it makes a lot of connections from the Old and New Testaments. There are two teens girls in our program who have two totally different views about God. The first is in Grade 10 and has no belief in God or Christianity; the other is a grade 9 student who believes in God and is actively trying to understand what identity in Christ means.
The one who doesn’t believe in God comes regularly to our Youth Extreme program. I’ve known her since she was in our KIC program so she is quite familiar with the basic teachings of the Bible. Throughout our time together, I’ve come to know and appreciate her sincerity and honesty. She is certainly not afraid to speak out on how she really feels and thinks about God–without being negative or rude about it.
On the other hand, the other teen and I often have great conversations about God. She shared how her high school religion class is helping her understand certain concepts, events, and practices she found confusing while reading her Bible. She attends a Catholic church and admits that she finds it very boring. Yet she tells me that she wants to experience more of her faith.
I think we are sometimes too eager to share our faith that we miss opportunities to genuinely listen to people. We miss out on hearing their joys, anxieties, fears, and even the doubts they have believing in God. Although our intentions are great, they might not result in the best outcomes, long-term.
Frankly, it's amazing how honest and raw these two girls have been about their faith journey or lack thereof. My hope for TCM and my fellow brothers and sisters is that we wouldn’t place an unnecessary pressure on converting people– but focus instead on building healthy relationships with them. Even if they don’t believe what we believe. As we continue into the new year my prayer is that our volunteers and teens can grow together, learn to listen genuinely to each other, and rely only on the power of God’s Spirit alone in changing hearts and leading them into relationship with Himself.