I’m in Canada right now with a bunch of teenagers. I’m leading a small, short-term mission team from our Texas church to help two churches in Alberta. The team includes four relatively sane adults and eight high school students. These four young men and four young women are loud, hyper, and always-hungry. And they aren’t shy at all when it comes to burping or making other “noises” in public.
I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. I’ve known these kids for years. They’ve all spent time in my home. I certainly wasn’t taken off guard by their “zest for life” or their voracious appetite. But they have surprised me.
Before we left Texas I selected a Bible study for us to do as a team. Each person works through the assigned material during their individual morning quiet time. Then we discuss it together during our evening team devotions. In addition to a time of service, I really wanted this mission trip to be a time of spiritual growth for these young people. I had it all figured out. I would be a mentor to each of them. A spiritual encourager. An inspiration! Well, the truth is, they’ve challenged me.
The Bible study we’re going through together as a team is on discipleship. We are exploring what it really means to follow Jesus? What does it look like in our day to day lives? Are we prepared to pay the cost? Because, like the author said, “You can’t go into discipleship halfway.” And “when you’re a disciple of Christ, there’s no graduation.”
I was prepared to share all my wisdom and years of experience of following Christ with these young Christians. But as they shared with the group I realized that they are truly living in the trenches of discipleship. I wouldn’t want to be a teenager today. I don’t know if I would take the stand for Jesus that these kids from my church make during an average day of high school. They love Jesus and they want people to know it. They’re my new heroes. Burps and all.
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? Luke 9:23-25