I’ve known Justin since January. I met him at Clay High School during lunches the first week I got back from winter break. Justin and I have hung out at least twice every week since we met; he loves to skateboard, and is so talented, so we usually go to the local skateparks, or skate around South Bend. Justin has a hard home life; his parents were never married, and he hasn’t seen his father in over two years. He lives with his grandparents and is responsible for paying rent.
In early July, Young Life Michiana (which Clay High is a part of) attended Timber Wolf Lake, and thankfully, after some much needed fundraising, Justin was able to come. After the obstacle course on the first night, I was reading some scripture in my top bunk, while Justin was in the top bunk of the bed next to mine. It seemed like everyone else was asleep because our reading lights were the only ones on. After a few minutes of silence, Justin asked if I would read him a story from the New Testament (which happened to be the same story that the speaker talked about at our final club-Jesus healing the lame man next to the pool). After that story, he asked for me to start at the beginning, and to read the Old Testament. I said I would read a chapter in Genesis and then it was time to turn off the lights. But he wasn’t having it. Instead of agreeing with me, he wanted to hear more. So I said I’ll read chapter 2, then he butted in and said, “And chapter 3”. So here we were, in the back corner of a cabin at Timber Wolf, it’s about midnight, all the lights are out except mine, and I’m reading the story of how God created everything to a kid who has never heard it before. Each night after that, we would have “Story Time”, as he called it, before we went to bed. I would pick up where we left off in Genesis and keep reading. At the end of our week at Timber Wolf, I found out that I wasn’t just reading to Justin, but all of the other young men in the cabin had been listening in silence.
We had some really hard cabin times, and after day 4, I was lacking faith, and felt like God hadn’t shown up. Justin was acting like none of the stuff from the club talks was relevant to him. However, on the last night, he broke down. I found him sitting on the porch after club in tears. It took him a while to speak, but when he did, all he said was, “When people talk about Jesus, they never tell you about the pain and suffering He went through. They never talk about the sacrifice He made for me.” During “Say-So”, Justin stood up and gave his life to Christ, saying “My name is Justin, I’m from South Bend, Indiana, and I want Jesus to show me the path to righteousness.” It was such an emotional experience for him, and for me as well. Getting to see my dude, who had been fixed on the quick high of worldly things before camp, give his life to the One who is greater than all things, and who offers eternal life, was indescribable.
There are kids in this world that have no one who loves on them daily, just like Justin, but we get the chance to show them that they have a Father that loves them more than they could ever imagine, no matter what. This is why I am a Young Life leader.
Below: Chris and Justin at Timber Wolf Lake the night of Christmas in July!