THE FIRST YEAR
I met Lucas because all of his friends were girls. We had been running a small group for 5th and 6th grade girls and he would just wait nearby. I would try to engage him after the group, but he’d sort of run away. Very high flight or fight response. If I tried to talk to him his eyes would slide off my face, he’d shift away from me, and sometimes just leave. It was like that for nearly two years. During that time, I’d occasionally see him at Club (a weekly large group event) where he was just one of those “hard” kids. The kind that make you groan a little when they walk through the door because you know it’s going to be a rough night. But, by the end of that first year, he was sitting within ear shot of the small group, just close enough to listen. At the very last group, I played one of those worship videos with the lyrics and he started singing and moving to the music.
THE NEXT FALL
I didn’t see him again until the new school year. That fall, I invited him to join my youth group’s fall retreat to Kelly’s Island. He came, but he didn’t really participate. We had that time where everyone is singing and praying in the Chapel, you know? He just separated himself. He’d just sit in the back or ask to go back to his cabin. He was almost always alone, isolating himself. I do remember that sometime around this trip he asked “Why did God allow me to have ADD?”. I think that might have been the first conversation we had that showed he’d been listening.
After we got back, I’d often see Lucas just hanging out on his phone scrolling through Tik-Tok. He’d be sitting there, alone, so I went and sat next to him. We’d make comments back and forth about the videos and sometimes laugh together. He still wasn’t really talking to me, but it was something. For weeks, we just sat there, watching Tik-Tok. Slowly, he began to share about his life in brief snippets, kind of like a Tik-Tok video. Turns out the kid had a lot going on at home. Some of his family was in jail, others struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, and Child Protective Services was involved. That’s a lot for a kid.
That winter, Lucas was pretty hit or miss. I hadn’t seen him for like 5 weeks when he showed up at club soaked from the knees down. It was the middle of winter. Another kid told me he had been playing outside on the frozen lake and fallen through. I was pretty short staffed, so I wasn’t able to check on him, but I was teaching on Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. During the lesson, I chose Lucas to be the one who’s feet I washed. I don’t know if it impacted him or not. I didn’t see him for weeks after that night.
When I finally saw Lucas again, it was time to start inviting kids to YFC day camp, so I gave him a flier. Every time I saw him, I invited him to camp. There was one day where I was at the place we do club hanging out with some kids. Lucas was there too. I hadn’t really hung out with him much that day, but it was raining and he asked for a ride home. On the way home, I gave him another flier for camp “Hey are you going to come? Are you able to come?.” I texted him a few times after that night, but didn’t hear from him.
Then, the week of camp he was like “Hey is that camp going on?”
At day camp Lucas participated in everything- the Foam Party, Water Kick Ball, Arrow Shooting. All of the activities, he jumped right in! He got along super well with the other kids. He found a friend and hung out with him all week. On the bus ride home, he volunteered to help other kids get off the bus safely. There was this mini leader coming out of him. It was a surprise to see this kid who’d always isolated himself have enough confidence to step up and lead. There were even multiple times throughout the week where we’d be doing the singing and praying thing in Chapel, and he was standing up and singing and dancing with the group. One day a bunch of the kids were dancing up by the cross behind the band and he was with them waving his hands in worship. It was awesome.
On the day we shared the Gospel, I asked him where he was at with Jesus. He said he recommitted his life to Christ, but wasn’t sure when the first time he made a commitment. The more I thought about it, I realized he’d been behaving more and more like a believer. It happened without me seeing it.
I can’t wait to see what God does next.
Application photo created by andreas – www.freepik.com