It was 4 AM and I couldn’t sleep. So I just laid there in bed with thoughts racing through my head about prayer, how to pray, why we pray, why we don’t pray enough and who would be at their flag pole in the morning. I was worried because I am not normally compulsive about simple events like asking students to show up and pray at their flag pole. So I eased my mind and began to call out to Jesus for clarity and for focus. In my heart he began a burden that was more fully realized later at the flagpole that day.
I stood around with a crowd of about sixty teenagers at a flag pole as they prayed. I watched from my huddle of adults as hundreds of other kids piled around the court yard wondering what was going on at their flag pole. My heart broke for the students. Sixty at the pole and about three hundred on the outside watching, more arriving each minute. As I stood there I could see it like a sign over thier heads. People lost like sheep without a shepherd. Words about addictions, struggles, and issues that lead to death filled my mind. Words like anorexia, school violence, drugs, depression, peer pressure, alcohol poisoning, drunk driving, bulemia, abortion, suicide, rape, racism, bullying… lies that people believe. My heart was broken knowing that many have never even heard the name of Jesus other than a cuss word.
Then I called out to God from the noise in my head and pleaded for him to empower these sixty, these few to reach their school for Jesus. Though much of the freedoms once afforded teachers and other adults on the campus were coming under attack in our area, one thing was clear… students still have the freedom to share the gospel and tell their friends about Jesus.
Yet peer pressure stands in the way. That is what kept sixty around the pole instead of in the crowds. Its also what kept students from finding their way to school on time and praying at the pole. The older I get, the easier it is to see. Like going on a mission trip and seeing the need in another culture, I look at students, now that I am a generation removed, and see more clearly than ever their need for the gospel. Indeed, I am a missionary to another culture.
Then it struck home. What about the place where I live? What about my culture? What about my neighborhood just a few blocks away? Do I see the need there? There is a need. Though my neighbors have houses like mine, cars like mine, kids like mine, and experience the same weather I do, many do not know, or have not heard about Jesus.
So I transitioned out of thought and into thoughtful action. Rebekah (my 3 year old) and I are out walking the streets in the evenings meeting neighbors and developing relationships for a bridge to the gospel. My aim is to meet and find opportunities to share the gospel with all of my neighbors.
I am still burdened for our schools and the student culture (and their parents) that I have been called to pastor and be a missionary to. My prayer is that as we pray and ask God to send laborers that students and families would catch a vision for God and He would use them to share the gospel with every student, teacher, and faculty member by the end of the school year.
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38 ESV)
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”(Romans 10:13-16 ESV)
What about you? What is your strategy to reach your neighborhood, school, or workplace? Are you partnering with others to see Jesus proclaimed where you are?