Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ever since I first accepted Christ, I’ve been pretty active in my church, but I never thought—I repeat, I never, never thought—that God would call me to work with youth. Let’s face it…they’re independent, often hard-headed, and they listen to strange music. So imagine my surprise when I very clearly felt the pull of God upon my heart for a handful of needy teens who’d come to our church looking mostly for a place to hang out and a free meal.

“Okay, God,” I said, eyeing the teenagers across the gym who were just as warily eyeing me. “I’ll feed them, but it’s not going to be free. They’re going to have to sit through a bible lesson, or no deal.”

I bet God smiled when I said that.

Soon after, a five-year partnership started, with God supplying the lessons, me supplying the pizza, and the kids supplying the fun. I’ll never forget the trips we made or the silly things the kids liked to say. Most of all, I’ll never forget the lessons that the Lord, and a handful of “needy” teens managed to teach me, the first of which was learning not to separate people based on their appearance, or even the kind of music they listen to:


Before students arrived, I recruited three or four adults to help. Then, I selected an area where there were several rooms to choose from, preferably with doors so students couldn’t see inside the rooms.

Next, I located an empty pizza box (most pizza places gave these out once I told them what it was for). I stationed one of the adults outside the door holding the pizza box and instructed them to try and persuade as MANY students to go into their room as they could. I told them they could tell students there was pizza inside the boxes. Once a student entered this room, they were not allowed to leave.

The next station was an adult standing outside a door holding several empty DVD or CD cases. I instructed them to try and persuade as MANY students to go into their room as they could. They could tell students that there were used movies and CD’s inside and the students would be allowed to choose as many as they wanted. Again, once a student entered this room, they were not allowed to leave.

Lastly, I recruited one adult to stand outside the room where the youth and I normally met. Hard as it was for them, I told them to wait patiently outside the door with nothing in their hands and told them NOT to speak.

As students arrived, I led them to a room separate from all of the other rooms. I told them I was going to give them pizza AFTER class was over. Then, I gave them the announcements, told them about upcoming events, etc. Once I finished, I let the students leave the room one at a time with the following instructions:

Go to the room where we normally meet. Wait for me there. I don’t know how long I will be.

I repeated this to each student as they went out the door. The process took a while, but I didn’t give them any more information and I didn’t answer questions. When the last student left, I went to the room with the pizza box. Some students had chosen to enter this room. I reminded them that I had given them specific instructions about what they were supposed to do, and that I told them their pizza would come after the lesson. Then I told them they had believed an empty promise, and sent them to the room they should have chosen. I did the same with the DVD/CD room.

By this point, all of the students had been sent to the room where we normally met. I separated the students into two groups, with the students who went to the correct room on my right side, and the students who went to the pizza or DVD/CD room on my left. Then, I read the scriptures for the Sheep and Goats.


Jesus left us pretty specific instructions about our walk with him. Unfortunately, we often believe the empty promises of this world. We fall away, make wrong choices. Though it seems harsh, God told us what the outcome of these choices would be. When we choose not to accept his Son, we separate ourselves from God. On the other hand, great is the reward for those who DO accept him. To emphasize this point, I turned my back so that I was reading only to the “goats” when reading the passage about the goats, and only reading to the “sheep” when I read the passage about the sheep. It was hard, but effective.

Most of all, this lesson reminded me (and hopefully the kids), that God’s instructions are explicit. He doesn’t always offer an explanation, but He does always expect us to listen and obey. I wanted to remind the students and myself that the temptations of this world, the things that would keep us from listening to God and following His path, are no more than empty promises. True happiness, true peace and contentment, those come only when our hearts—and our will—are focused on following Him.

Author Bio:

Elizabeth Ludwig is an award winning author whose work has been featured on Novel Journey, the Christian Authors Network, and The Christian Pulse. She is an accomplished speaker and teacher, and often attends conferences and seminars, where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. She is the owner and editor of the popular literary blog, The Borrowed Book. To learn more about Elizabeth and her work, visit her at


  1. I really enjoyed this. I'm no longer able to attend church and I miss it. God put similar callings on my heart at different times. He and I had some of the same conversations about it. He certainly does know what He's doing. These are some of my best memories. Also, I learned a few years back one of the youth I worked with and was friends with was killed in Iraq. It was a bittersweet moment for me as we all miss him, but I also know for a fact that he's now in heaven. Blessings. Susan Fryman

  2. Blessings to you as well, Susan. I pray that God's love reaches you, wherever you are this Christmas season.


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