How You Can Help a Student Find Christ

 Here’s a slice of my life.

It was published this week in Pointes of View as a guest blog. I am sharing it with you because as a parent, youth worker or volunteer, you may be one of the people who make this kind of a difference in a student’s life!

 Many Voices -One Clear Choice

It’s not just one influence that brings a soul to Christ. In my case, there were many different voices that led me to one clear choice. You may be surprised to see the variety voices God uses to save a life.

 Bill and Shirley

My dad lost and found his Scottish Presbyterian faith in the front lines of Korea. When he returned to Montreal, he married Shirley Knowles a staunch Anglican. Together they brought us to the tiny St. Ignatius Anglican church in Montreal North every Sunday morning. Sometimes our family of nine and the minister were the only ones present. My mom would sing hymns as she worked in the kitchen and prayed with us every night.

My choices at that time were to pray my prayers and to be quiet in church. I didn’t excel at either one.

 Maple Hill Sunday School

As if to make up for the old hymns and rituals in the morning, every Sunday afternoon we would go to a fun, interesting, outreach Sunday School that met in the gym or our elementary school.

Every week they gave us the choice to receive Jesus into our heart. Without fail, each Sunday afternoon, I would invite Jesus, “Please come into my heart and help me to be good.” Still, when they said, “Amen,” at the end of the prayer, I would bolt out of the gym and hit the crash bars on the double doors so hard and so fast that they would bang on the walls behind me. I’m sure my Sunday School teachers shook their heads thinking, “There’s no hope for that kid.”

 La Cachet

I have to confess that after seven years of perfect attendance, I became a Sunday School dropout. I still attended the Anglican church in the morning. I even became an altar server but as I moved into high school, I wanted to shake off my “goodie-goodie” image. I joined a pathetic, little gang that made mischief at Rosemount High School and a local arena.

Enter a new voice in my life. Youth With a Mission set up an outreach in my neighborhood called La Cachet (the hiding place). These men and women from California ran a Christian bookstore upstairs and a coffe house downstairs playing music by Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, and other early Christian rockers. (It was an improvement over Alice Cooper that I would listen to religiously at home.)

I felt I had another choice to make. I could continue deceiving my parents and hang out with my delinquent jean-jacketed “friends” or be like these caring Californian Christians.

My choice? Compromise and Improvise! I sewed a “One Way Jesus” patch on my jean jacket and tried to prove to my friends, “You can be tough and love Jesus too. He was a rebel and the toughest man who ever lived!” I was deceiving myself and wasn’t convincing anyone.

 My Brother, Dave

On a dare from a pretty girl in his class to visit her church, my older brother Dave went to see who would go to a church on a Tuesday night as well as Sunday! Her family picked him up and dropped him at home late, carrying a paperback Bible called The Way. We were in bed when he came in. He climbed up to his bunk and said to the four of us, “Hey guys, can I pray.”

My brother; the joker, trickster became a Bible-reading, Jesus-sharing believer! His faith was genuine. It was constant. He never let up. He helped around the house and did kind things for all of us! His life showed me that the religious belief I had was empty and powerless compared to his 24-7 relationship with Jesus.

 Fabre Street  Church

I started attending Fabre Street Church with him on Tuesday nights. Faith came easy for him but it seemed wrong to me that someone else should pay for what I had done wrong. I also went back and forth between thinking God exists and God didn’t exist. I wanted what my brother had but I feared that I may be committing my whole life to something that wasn’t real. The Bible is so right in saying that a double minded person is unstable in all of their ways (James 1:8)

One Tuesday in August, before the start of grade nine, the pastor quoted Jesus words,

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” Mark 8:35-38

In this church service, a voice broke through my self-deception. It was obvious to me that my objections to God’s existence were just my way of denying the decision I had made as a child.

The pastor invited anyone who wanted to deny themselves, lose their life and follow Christ, to come forward. All I could think of was my choice between what mattered more; what my gang, my friends, or the congregation thought of me, or what Jesus thought of me.

I was the only one who went to the front that night. Instead of objecting to the fairness of Christ dying instead of me, I told him that because he laid down his life for me I would lay down my life for him and live life entirely the way he wanted me to live –no matter where that would lead.

After praying I felt strange. When I walked to the front of that church I felt alone but for all those hundreds of times I prayed, “Jesus come into my heart,” as a child, I felt like he actually had this time!

I could never keep your attention if I listed and described all the ways that my brothers and sisters, and so many others influenced this decision but I do know that all of us can play a role in a student’s faith choice!

Now that I have been in the ministry for 30 years, I reflect on how I got myself into this….life. It really comes down to all of those voices and that one undeniable choice.

What’s Your Story? Who influenced you? How are you involved in some teen’s story? We’d love to know. 

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Ron Powell

ronpowell

Ron Powell is the Adviser to the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has been involved in youth ministry for over 30 years. He continues to volunteer, write, teach, and speak to parents, leaders and teens. If you would like to contact him you can email ron.powell@vanguardcollege.com

5 Comments

  1. amazing, thanks for sharing Ron, can’t wait till you publish an Autobiography!! . hah

  2. Hey Alia,
    Thanks for the encouragment. Everyone’s story is different and interesting. I’d love to see your story in print!!

  3. Hello Ron,
    That was a great testimony! It is amazing how God has a plan for us and we just have to simply accept Jesus into our hearts. Once we truly accept, our life is greatly transformed in such a wonderful way.
    It was interesting to read about your struggles from your teenage years because I went through many of the same but later in life, I guess I had to sweat it our a bit more.
    When we were teenagers, going to Rosemount High School, I remember seeing you on the Pie IX bus 139 reading your Bible and me thinking….oh there goes Ron…becoming a Jesus freak…well I guess joke is on me now that I “freak” for Jesus…
    Obviously God has a plan for us and we do not know what it will be other than something good! Over all of these years both of our “life paths” crossed many times:
    1) Your younger twin brothers were in my (and my wife’s) classes throughout high school
    2) You and I shared winter and summer scout camp trips
    3) your older brother Dave is now my brother-in-law
    4) your sister Gail and I served in the reserve army (different units but the same armoury)
    5) Both of our Dad’s served together in the Scouting movement
    6) Today one of my son’s is one of your students at Vanguard
    7)…………..what is next?……………..
    How many more times will God have our paths cross again and for what greater purpose? It can only be something good….and something to look forward too…
    All the Best,
    Warren
    P.S.: As you probably know but not your blog followers, Fabre Street Church (now named Good News Chapel) is moving this week (Dec 1-5) from the Rosemount district. The last church service in the old building was on Sunday Nov. 30th, 2014 after ninety-three (93) faithful years in the same Montreal district!!! Good News Chapel’s first service in the St. Léonard district will be on Dec 7th, 2014 ready for many more years of raising up disciples to spread the Good Word.

    • Tyson Howells
      Ron Powellsays:

      Warren! Thanks so much for writing. It is amazing how our paths have crossed and I hope they continue to! I may have been reading my Bible on the bus but I was far from perfect as a teen! Thanks for sharing about the church relocation. I am praying that the new location will bring many more people to the Lord.
      Your son is an excellent student. It is a joy to be teaching him!

  4. Braden Bulmersays:

    Really cool to hear more specifics of your story Ron. It’s now easier to piece together the anecdotes I get in class!

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