Pastor Mark enjoys writing- he is a former high school English teacher after all, and has a B.S. in English from Radford. He is a frequent poster on Facebook and writes a weekly Sunday morning column for the News-Virginia. Each week, we will post Pastor Mark's latest NV column here for your enjoyment. From time to time, the pastor will also share thoughts and musings that don't make it into the paper but that might be of interest to some who look at this website. 
As a bonus treat, Pastor Mark will also post articles or short pieces here from others that he think might bless you.

Why I am against abortion, Pastor Mark, Nv, Feb 9, 2020

In response to my column last week explaining that I weigh abortion as the single most important issue when considering who to vote for in an election, I was told that maybe my mother should have aborted me. I wish I was joking, but I’m not. This person suggested that my mother, after I had already began forming in my mother’s womb (“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” Jeremiah 1:5a), should have gone to a doctor’s office or Planned Parenthood Center to have me torn apart or cut out or whatever barbaric way they do it now, so that my life would end and I would cease to be. Why did this person suggest such a thing? Well, because in my column I had suggested that a woman should NOT have society’s permission and blessing to go to a doctor’s office or Planned Parenthood Center after conceiving her baby and then have them tear the baby apart or cut the baby out. By advocating for an unborn baby, I became the recipient of such outrage and hatred. Triggered is what the kids call it these days, I believe.
Let me once again explain why I believe abortion to be such an important issue. In doing so, I realize I might cause a ruckus, but Jesus blessed the children and showed us how valuable they are to Him, and God chose to include for us in the Bible an instance where John the Baptist, still in his mother’s womb, leapt when Mary, carrying Jesus in her womb, entered a room, so I believe any such ruckus-causing is in good company and makes practical sense.
Anyway, the reason I stand so passionately for the unborn children is because I believe God does as well. That is always my starting point. Now, I could base my stance here simply on emotional experience. While I have never had an abortion myself (of course) and have never been part of that kind of decision for my own child, I have driven a friend to get an abortion and given her emotional support. Even as a non-Christian, that rattled me, especially as I was the only one who could console my friend during several breakdowns that followed her abortion- she hadn’t even told her boyfriend she was pregnant. Eventually, Charlene dropped out of school and moved back home, and I lost track of her, but even today I often wonder how her life ended up. It was such an impressionable moment on me that as an English major at Radford, I wrote a poem about that incident in a Poetry Writing class. Yes, I could say that that experience has influenced my stance on abortion, but it wasn’t until I was born again at 28 years and 11 months old that I became the obnoxious, loud-mouthed defender of a baby’s right to be born that I am today.
I could also go with the logic I sometimes hear, good logic in a way, that we never know who it is a woman is aborting- perhaps the one who would cure AIDS or cancer, the one who would have saved someone’s life, the next Martin Luther King, Jr. or Mother Teresa. That does cause one to think and wonder about all the potentially wonderful people that have been killed inside their mother’s womb. That argument falls short for me though, because I believe ALL children’s lives are equally important and that ALL children have the right to be born, regardless of whether they achieve greatness, turn out to be a true villain or end up just living a boring, ordinary life.
At the end of the day, I am against abortion because I read Scripture and see how it is God who “knit us together in our mother’s womb,” (Psalm 139), how God is our God even while in our mother’s womb (Psalm 22), how God chose when we’d be born and where (Acts 17), how He made us in His own image (Genesis 1) and how God hates the person who sheds innocent blood (Proverbs 6). I am convinced that God hates abortion and, therefore, I hate abortion. I do not hate the person who has one or the person who is pro-choice (many are my good friends), but I can’t get away from hating the act itself. If that makes me an enemy of the people, so much so that they’d wish that I had been aborted myself, so be it. 

Abortion is this important, Pastor Mark, NV, Feb 2, 2020

I read an article the other day that referred to the most important issues for voters in the upcoming election. The focus of the article was that studies show that it is a myth that the majority of Evangelical Christian voters place the abortion issue at the top of their list of most important issues. I don’t find this study to represent the conversations I have with people concerning the election, but I guess I’ll take their word for it. If you want to know how important of an issue I consider abortion to be (anyone dying to know?), let me explain it to you this way:
Imagine I was given a bag of 20 marbles to place in various buckets representing some of the hot political issues we will be debating for the next few months. I can choose how many marbles to drop into each bucket, determining how important I believe each issue to be.
I come to the first bucket. Healthcare. Important issue. I put three marbles in that one. The second bucket. Gun control. That one’s fairly important as well. I will put three more in there. Gay marriage and related issues. While the Bible declares homosexuality a sin and I don’t believe a biblical definition of marriage can apply to two people of the same sex, it isn’t a major issue for me. One marble. Same with the legalizing marijuana issue. I think smoking pot is stupid but it’s not getting many of my precious marbles. One marble. So far, that’s three plus three plus one plus one- eight marbles in the buckets, twelve left to give.
I find several buckets representing issues that I certainly hold convictions on, but that don’t move me to give up a marble. Animal testing. Raising the minimum wage. GMO labels. The privatization of prisons. Labor unions. Important issues, but not marble-worthy.
I turn my attention back to the buckets with issues I am more passionate about. Immigration policy. Three marbles. Climate change/environmental issues. My oldest son would be real upset with me if I didn’t give this issue some consideration, so it gets two marbles. I put one marble in the bucket for free college because I think that one’s so crazy it will never be implemented, but at the same time, lots of people are crazy too, so I better give at least one marble there.
Four marbles left. And still so many big issues. Tax issues. National security issues. Affordable medicine. Nuclear energy. Space. What to do, what to do? I see a bucket marked Religious Freedom and put my last four marbles in it. I decide to look over all the buckets again and move a few marbles from one bucket to another.
And then, I see one last bucket sitting all by itself in the corner of the room. On it is written, Abortion/Planned Parenthood Funding. Yikes. Immediately, I think of the millions of babies our country legally allows to be murdered each year in the name of a woman’s right over her own body and the body of her unborn baby. I think about how some of the money I pay back into the system, albeit a very small amount, is used to pay for these horrific procedures. I look at the other buckets and ask myself, which of these issues is more important than the abortion issues? NONE. Which issues come close to being as big an issue as legally killing babies and asking me to pay for it? Again, my answer is NONE. So, I start pulling marbles out of their buckets, placing them instead in the Abortion bucket. Soon, I realize that twenty marbles aren’t nearly enough when one single issue now has over half of the marbles in it. So much for that fun activity.
In real life, there are no marbles or buckets. We get one vote to cast to the candidate we believe best represents our own personal values and convictions on the issues we believe to be most important. It is not too early to begin thinking about the vote you will cast for president this November. Study the issues, weigh them all out. For me, one issue is simply so egregious and God-defying that I have to assign it a greater weight than all the rest. Maybe you see it differently, and that’s fine, but don’t take it lightly. It doesn’t matter nearly as much as Jesus matters, but it does matter.

the joy of talking, pastor mark, nv, jan 26, 2020

One of the things I like about my call as pastor is that I get to spend a good amount of my time talking to people. I am thankful for other aspects of my position as pastor as well, but there is something particularly enjoyable about getting to converse with different folks throughout my days.
I enjoy talking with non-Christians. While occasionally a talk about Jesus will get out of hand on social media and while occasionally something I write in this column will stir up some negative reaction from those who disagree with it, I find that talking in person with people of other faiths as well as with people with no faith is nearly always beneficial and fruitful. I enjoy talking with the guy who manages my favorite smoothie place in Harrisonburg. He and I have sat down several times over the last two years and talked about our beliefs. He is an atheist who agrees with me that the world is broken, but he has very different ideas about why that is and what can be done about it. He also has some interesting takes on religion, believing that religion is foolish because it’s based on fairytale but that it also serves society well by “making people behave.” He always respects my viewpoint, never interrupting or losing his cool, and, on more than one occasion, he has kept the conversation going by asking me to explain my conviction more deeply. I enjoy talking to the gay college student I sometimes run into at the coffee shop who goes to church regularly but doesn’t consider himself a Christian. I loved talking to the twenty-something girl I met last month at a social event, who lives her life as wildly as I did when I was her age, but admits that sometimes something in her life is missing. I learn a lot talking to the girl who has been ringing me up at the local grocery store for as long as I’ve been in Grottoes, the one who tells me about her concerns with all the wickedness of the world and likes to hear my take on it, but who hasn’t yet placed her faith in Christ. All of these talks are enjoyable, non-confrontational and fruitful. Most conversations I have about the Lord are one-time conversations with people I might never run into again, but, I’ll admit, the ones I enjoy the most are the ones that are ongoing.
I also enjoy  talking with Christians. Sometimes I get to talk with brothers and sisters in Christ who I meet one time and then won’t see again until we worship God together for eternity in heaven. I enjoyed many of those conversations when working part-time at a local Waynesboro restaurant when the church I serve wasn’t yet big enough to pay me a full-time salary. Those conversations were often precious, and many of them stemmed from the opportunity I’ve been given to write these weekly paper columns. Of course, now that the church has grown to the place where I was able to quit that part-time job, I get to spend more time in people’s homes, praying with them, learning about their kids, talking about the common joy we find in the Lord. We talk about sports and we talk about biblical doctrine. We talk about Netflix shows and we talk about Bible stories. We talk about the past and we talk about the future. What a joy it is to just talk, talk, talk with these people of God who bless me, teach me and encourage me week after week.
Today, after finishing this article, I get to visit a widow who is often lonely, a couple who likes to challenge me with hard Bible questions and another couple who has “something special they want to share with me”- knowing them, it is probably a kind word and a container of homemade soup!
The call to visit, engage and talk with others isn’t just a call for pastors, it is a call for all Christians. Truly, it is one of the great joys of being a Christian. I encourage you all, as you walk through the mall, sit in the beautician’s chair or go to that company picnic to find someone to talk to- I believe you will be glad that you did! 

God: on death, pastor mark, nv, Jan 19, 2020

One of the hardest things we have to do on this earth is to say goodbye to someone we love who has died. I have had to do that this week, as have many of you. The longer we live the more people we find ourselves saying good bye to. Death is all around us.
In 1 Thessalonian 4:13, Paul tells us, “we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” He isn’t saying that we don’t grieve at all- we will grieve because we miss a person. Christians don’t have to grieve, however, in the same way the rest of the world grieves. If we understand some of the promises and assurances we are given in Scripture (what Paul means in this verse when he says we shouldn’t be “uninformed”), we can view the death of believer as a blessed thing, as much as it might still hurt. I’d like to share a few of these assurances.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord  is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15)- In several places in Scripture, followers of Jesus Christ are referred to saints (contrary to some teaching, living Christians are already saints, not just dead ones!). From God’s perspective, the earthly death of one of these saints is a precious thing. God made us, God loves us and God always knows what is best for us. God knows that the sweetest thing that can happened to a believer is to be able to finally leave this world behind and just be in His presence. God takes great joy in being united for eternity with another of His children. This is a great reminder for us as we grieve.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). In this beloved, oft-quoted verse, Jesus tells us that those who believe in Him don’t really die, but are given eternal life.
Paul says that, “we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8), helping us understand that the eternal life Jesus promised in John 3:16 is not a lifetime stuck in these deteriorating bodies on a broken earth, but is instead much better than that.
Paul shares more about that perspective when he says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). I find this verse particularly encouraging as I consider that Paul endured more suffering than anyone who ever lived and also got a glimpse into heaven. In other words, Paul is the perfect person to be able to look at suffering and glory and weigh them against each other. His conclusion after doing so was that the glory to come is so wonderful that it makes the suffering we go through now not even worth mentioning. Wow!
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). In this famous verse, we see a picture of eternity to come on the renewed earth and heavens. We are promised that anything we think of as bad or unpleasant will be things of the past. There will be no more sorrow, no more suffering and no more sin! What a great eternal life that will be!
I want to end with the words Jesus spoke to Martha, as she mourned over the passing of her brother Lazarus. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’” (John 11:25-26). Jesus told us clearly what a person must do to have eternal life- it is as simple as believing in Him. In other places in the Bible, we learn that “believing in Him” means believing that He is the Messiah (the anointed one prophesied about in the Old Testament), that He is the only way to heaven and that He is God in the flesh. The person that believes this will never really die. The question for you then is the same one Jesus asked Martha- Do you believe?

New valley church, pastor mark, nv, jan 12, 2020

There’s a new church coming to town, and I think it’s gonna be a good one. New Valley Church, led by Waynesboro native Pastor K.J. Washington, will begin holding regular Sunday morning services this morning at its 204 Arch Avenue downtown location. Service starts at 10am, but get there early- I heard they’ll be serving gourmet coffee and pastries!
Why do would a pastor of one church be promoting another church? Isn’t that some sort of conflict of interest? Isn’t there a competition between churches, as each tries to build its own numbers by any means necessary?
Ephesians 4:4-6 says, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” In other words, while there are many local congregations that meet every Sunday morning all across the world to worship Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, there is actually only one church. We often refer to this church as the “universal church,” and this church is made up of all of God’s children, all who have received and believed in Jesus Christ.
I am a fan of the local church. I believe God gave us the local church as a gift to help us grow, to help us love and to help us help others. This is not saying that every local church is a good one, because, unfortunately, there are plenty of Sunday morning gatherings of people that don’t meet the criteria for a New Testament church. Plenty do, however, and for each one of those, I am thankful.
God has given the church to build up His children, bless those who are not yet His children and to glorify Himself. His children (as defined by John 1:12-13) are built up as we gather regularly, pray for one another, instruct each other in the Bible and live together in community. Those on the outside are blessed as the church helps meet physical needs in the community (historically, most hospitals, food banks and shelters were started by churches) while it also meets spiritual needs by pointing people to their only hope for eternal salvation in Christ alone. God is honored and glorified when the church functions as it should, as a beacon of light and as a collective of worshippers who submit their lives to Him in grateful obedience. I say, there’s always more room for a church like that!
We don’t need any more churches that change the meaning of Scripture to fit the culture instead of helping the culture change according to Scripture. We don’t need any more churches that grow in number by telling everyone they are fine just the way they are instead of growing people deeper by showing them that they are sinners in need of radical change. We don’t need any more churches that work tirelessly on social justice issues, but fail to address society’s greater need, repentance and faith in Jesus for salvation. We have plenty of those churches in the area and we don’t need any more of them.
On the other hand, there will always be the need for more churches that love people enough to help them both physically and spiritually. There will always be the need for more churches that believe working towards righting social injustice is important, but recognize that there is a great hope for mankind in Jesus, even when social injustices still exist. There will always be the need for more churches that believe the Bible is the completely true and is still helpful today as the final authority in the Christian’s life, not just one of many helpful guides that contains some good advice that maybe we should sometimes consider.
When visiting New Valley Church’s website, the church’s mission is stated as, “New Valley Church exists to worship God by seeing as many people as possible transformed by the Gospel.”  That’s my church’s mission too, and should be the mission for all New Testament churches. No, there’s no competition here at all; all local churches that exist to proclaim the Gospel of salvation and transformed lives in Jesus Christ alone are on the same team! So, head on down to New Valley this morning (or any other Bible-teacher, Jesus-preaching, People-reaching churches)- I bet Pastor K.J. will be tickled to find out you came because you read about him in the paper!

keeping those resolutions, pastor mark, nv, jan 5, 2020

Is it possible to make a resolution and actually keep it? I guess that depends on the person making the resolution. Not so different than asking, “Can a person really keep a secret?” or “Should we count on the person who makes us a promise?” Some people can keep confidentiality. Some people can keep promises. And, yes, some people do stay true to a resolution when they make one.
Daniel was one of those people. Daniel was a young Hebrew boy, most likely in his teens or early twenties when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered Jerusalem, according to the will of God. God was allowing the Israelites to suffer captivity due to their rebellious hearts and sinful ways. King Nebuchadnezzar’s plan was to start exiling the “best of the best” of the Jews to Babylon, the “best of the best” being young, virile boys who were exceptionally smart and physically capable. They would be taught the ways of the Babylonians and would be influential in settling more of the Israelites as they were brought into Babylon to live.
Daniel fit the criteria set by the king and was brought into captivity, along with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. One of the first things that Daniel and his fellow exiles were commanded was to change their diets from what God had commanded them to eat to what the king provided for them. This put Daniel in a precarious spot- obey God and disobey the king of the country in which he was now a prisoner, or obey the king and disobey God. Just as Peter and John would do several hundred years later when standing up against the godless Roman and Jewish authorities, Daniel chose to obey God. Daniel 1:8 tells us that, “Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank.” Do you see that? He made a resolution. He decided that no matter what the price, no matter how hard it might be, he would eat only what God had told the Israelites to eat. Specifically, Daniel asked that an exception be made for him and his friends, that they be given only vegetables and water for ten days. At the end of the ten days, their physical appearance would be compared to the physical appearance of those on the king’s diet. Those in charge of the exiles reluctantly agreed to the trial period requested by Daniel, and at the end of the ten days they found that those eating the diet of vegetables and water to be of heartier appearance than those eating the meat and wine. This is not a commentary against meat and wine, by the way- don’t put words into my mouth that I didn’t speak! The lesson we learn from this story is that the way Daniel and the other boys were able to obey God was by resolving from the get-go (the KJV says Daniel “purposed in his heart”) that they would. What a novel idea! They simply said, “We choose to obey God, so we WILL obey God.”
So what is involved in resolving to do something or to refrain from something? Let me offer a few simple suggestions:
We consider whether we can keep our oath before making it- never make an oath before God or man that you don’t intend to keep.
We come up with a strategy- HOW will we keep this resolution?
We pray. Hard. Often.
We exercise the self-control that God has already given us.
We trust God to provide what He said He would- strength to endure persecution or discouragement and a way out of any situation that might tempt us to sin or to give up.
We involve others- most resolutions are easier to keep when done with others. Ecclesiastes 4 reminds us that, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
I am like everyone else- I’ve made well-intended commitments at the beginning of the year (as well as at other times) that I failed to keep. I’ve been discouraged on more than one occasion by my inability to follow through on a resolution. I do believe that it IS possible to keep a resolution, though. Daniel did it- let’s use him as an example. Let’s resolve now, purpose in our hearts now, that we will stay the course and then let’s do it! Happy New Year!

The wise man, Pastor Mark, NV, March 1, '20

In the Thursday morning Bible study at my church, we have been studying 1 Samuel. This week we came to a peculiar story in the history of the Israelites found in 1 Samuel 5. I’ve read this story many times before, but this time something very obvious stood out to me, something that I don’t recall having seen in previous readings.
In this story, the Philistine people, enemies of Israel, had stolen the ark of the covenant, also known as the ark of God. The ark was a special box that had been built many years before according to God’s specific instructions and held the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s budding rod and a golden pot of manna (food that had been sent by God to the people wandering in the wilderness). Most importantly, the ark had a golden seat on it called the mercy seat that had a cloud hovering above it that symbolized the resting place and presence of God.
The Philistine people placed the stolen ark in a temple next to a statue of their false god, Dagon. The morning after the ark was brought into the temple, the people found the statue of Dagon lying on its face at the base of the ark of God. The second morning found the statue on the ground again, this time with its head and hands broken off. Soon thereafter, the people of the town that housed the ark were filled with painful tumors as a show of God’s power and wrath. Not wanting to further anger God, the people of Ashdod moved the ark to another city in Philistine territory. Soon, painful tumors broke out on the people of that town, so they also moved the ark. Eventually, the Philistines decided that having the ark of God was a bad idea, so they filled it with gifts and took it back to the Israelites.
Like I said, I’ve read that story before, but this week I saw something in it as clear as day, something I don’t know how I missed earlier. As I read it, I recognized how stupid these Philistines were. At first glance, it’s easy to think, “Well, it took them a while, but the Philistines finally wised up!” when they returned the ark of God to the Israelites. That is how I’ve often viewed this story. The truth is, however, that if the Philistines had really been smart, they wouldn’t have seen God’s power and then fearfully given the ark back over to the enemy. They would have realized, “This God is the real God and we need Him too. Let’s start worshiping Him!” They would have admitted their foolishness in rebelling against Him. They would have confessed their sinfulness in bowing down to a false idol. They would have repented of their sin, turning to the one true God for their own salvation! But they didn’t. Instead, they continued on as enemies of God. They went to their graves unredeemed sinners with no hope of salvation.
People still do that today. They see God’s power in their lives. Maybe they witness a healing that can’t be explained outside of a miracle. Maybe they are involved in some kind of accident where they should have died but they didn’t. Maybe they hit bottom in lifestyle choices and get another chance. Seeing such power isn’t enough for them, though, so they continue on living as they want to, even though the joy they seek eludes them, the peace they need escapes them and the purpose they want remains hidden from them.
They continue drinking or abusing drugs and lose friends and family because of it. They continue their lives of sexual immorality and end up sick and depressed. They continue harboring resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness and live lives of hatred, not love. They continue doing things they way they want to do, even when the consequences for doing so are more and more obvious.
I have compassion for these people; after all, there was a time that I was one of them. I remember what it was to be unfaithful, selfish, self-destructive and stubborn. I remember caring first and foremost for myself, then for others. Jesus delivered me from that a month before my 29th birthday. He showed me a better way, He showed me that He IS the Way.
God allows built-in consequences for our sins, so that we might turn to Him. The wise man does, but the fool does not. Which are you?

the blessing of children, pastor Mark, NV, March 8, '20

My oldest son got his second college acceptance letter yesterday; kind of makes me feel old. It doesn’t seem possible that Atticus is now weeks away from graduating high school as well as turning 18. How can that be? Of course, all three of my kids are growing up- Lily will turn 14 next month, and our Micah will get his learner’s permit soon. Again, how can that be?
When I look at the lives of my kids, the thing that matters to me most about them is that they have all trusted Christ as Lord and Savior and show evidence of faith in their lives. This doesn’t mean that they always act right or that they don’t still do things at times that they shouldn’t. And me saying that this is the thing that matters most to me about them does not imply that I would love them any less if they weren’t followers of Jesus Christ- they are my kids and I love them unconditionally! But what a person does concerning Christ has eternal consequences in the days to come as well as great blessings in this present world, so it has to be the thing about anyone that matters most.
I’ve had the privilege of baptizing all three of my children. I got to baptize Atticus shortly before we moved back to the Valley in 2011. Since that time, Atticus has grown into a wonderful person. He is thoughtful of others, always wanting to put a smile on the faces of his friends. He is very knowledgeable about many things- he can talk music, cinema and science (he plans to major in Math and Physics, wherever he ends up). Recently, he’s become very interested in politics, sitting up late with me to watch debates and frequently reading articles about the candidates and the issues. I have enjoyed watching him form his own opinions and voice them boldly, even when they aren’t in line with everything his dad believes! One of the greatest blessings I’ve gotten to enjoy with Atticus is his voluntary participation in a men’s group meeting I am part of on Wednesday mornings. The last two summers, Atticus has chosen to get up early one morning a week and join us as at a coffee shop in Weyers Cave to talk about the Bible and many Christian issues. I love hearing his insight and watching him get passionate about things that are important to him.
Micah was the first of my children that I got to baptize at the church I serve in Grottoes. Since that time, he has amazed me with his ability to learn and remember things. He is a gifted musician, just like Atticus is. He regularly places in the top 5% at Rubik’s Cube competitions around the state (yes, there are still Rubik’s Cube competitions!). He surprised us a couple weeks ago by earning a spot on the Spotswood High tennis team. One of the greatest blessings I’ve gotten to enjoy with Micah is his leadership in our church’s youth group. Micah is usually quick to give the right answer to Bible questions and he’s not afraid to take a stab at questions he is less sure of. It encourages me to see how Micah’s Bible knowledge continues to grow over the years.
And then there’s Lily. I baptized Lily just a few months ago. As many of my readers know, Lily has intellectual disabilities that have made teaching the Gospel to her more of a challenge. There was a time when I wondered if she’d ever understand it, mainly due to her struggle with abstract thinking. Last year, however, on a ride back from youth group, Lily told me she knew she was a sinner and that she knew Jesus was her only hope. She said she was ready to be a Christian. I spent some time after that asking follow-up questions and am certain that Lily understands the decision that she has made to follow Jesus. Lily loves youth group more than anyone I know and while she doesn’t often enter into our group discussions, she listens and takes it all in- I know this because she’ll often tell me about it later in the week.
Yes, they’re growing up, and, yes, I love it! I am truly blessed.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6