I owe my life to the Gideons (the folks that hand out Bibles and put Bibles in hotel room drawers). So when they asked people at my church to help them talk to some kids at a local Juvenile Detention Center, I couldn’t say no.
I’ve told my testimony dozens of times and I always do it slightly differently to customize it for the audience. I enjoyed this one a lot because I felt like it might make an impact on some of those kids’ lives, so I thought I’d share what I said to them here on this blog. I’m going off memory so I may not have it word for word, but it is close.
I’m not going to pretend to know your situation or what you guys are going through, but I can gather that you aren’t at your highest point right now. I just wanted to share with you about a time when I was at my lowest point.
I was in college and I liked going out drinking with my buddies on weekends. One particular night I decided that I wanted to get really drunk and had several beers in the first few minutes. Turns out that was the last thing I remember about that night.
What I do remember is waking up on a cold, hard, metal slab and seeing that I was in a small room behind thick Plexiglas. I was in jail.
As I found out later, I had gotten into a fight with one of my good friends and stormed off into the night. I must have gotten picked up for drunk in public.
They let me out and I signed a waiver and paid a fee. As I was walking out of the building a woman who was holding the door for me handed me a Gideons pocket sized Bible and said “maybe you should look into this.”
My heart sank. As I walked home what must have been 3 miles in the rain, I couldn’t help but think to myself “if I haven’t hit rock bottom, I don’t want to know what that rock bottom is.”
The next couple of weeks were very lonely because the friend I fought with was living with all my other friends and he was still mad at me. So I was alone. I went to class alone. I ate alone. I felt like an outcast.
So I picked up that Gideons Bible and started looking for answers. Right in the front I found a look-up table that said “where to look when…” (and it listed depressed, defeated, etc.). Here’s one verse that really made an impact on me.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
When I look at you guys in here [the Juvenile Detention Center] I see that you have been separated from your family, your friends, your loved ones, from everything in the outside world that you love.
What this verse says is that you can never, ever, ever be separated from God’s love. Ever.
Back to my story, I was very encouraged by this. It changed my life. I wanted to know more about this God. I asked my friend to take me to church and explain some things to me.
Now I’m not going to tell you that nothing bad ever happened to me again. At one point I was laid off. I’ve had my heart broken on a few occasions. But through it all I always had God’s love and He guided me through that.
Now I’ve got a beautiful wife, a beautiful daughter, and a steady job. But more important than all of that is that I know that when I die, when I pass away from this Earth, I know that God will open up the gates to Heaven and welcome me home. I know that with 100% certainty because of what is in this book.
My life was forever changed when a woman looked at me and said “maybe you should look into this.” Now I’m looking at you and I’m saying “maybe you should look into this.”
Another speaker got up and gave more of a sermon and talked about “what do you pursue?” It was a good talk and I think at least some of the kids took it to heart. At the end, they opened it up for Q&A and after a few questions I thought I’d turn it around on them. I asked them “who can tell me what the Gospel is?” After some blank stares I decided to give them the short version Gospel that I like to use. Here’s what I said.
“I like to break it up into the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (the Trinity). The Father is perfect. Everything in Heaven is perfect. He cannot allow anything into Heaven that isn’t perfect because (logically) it wouldn’t be perfect anymore. We on Earth are not perfect. Romans 3:23 tells us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
So he sent Jesus to Earth to die for our sins. Once we accept Christ’s free gift, we are made clean and perfect in God’s eyes. So we can go to Heaven. Then we are given the Holy Spirit to live inside us. He helps us and guides us and opens our eyes to the Word of God where before we may not have been able to understand. So through the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we are saved.”
I pray that this message found its way into the hearts and minds of these young men. I pray that they will seek God earnestly and accept Christ as their savior.
If you are a believer, please pray with me for those kids. If you aren’t, allow me to humbly suggest, maybe you should look into this too. Thanks.