I don’t have a dramatic story of redemption from alcohol, drugs, or the deep pain of broken relationships. But I was saved from all of that – and more – by God’s grace and the influence of family, camp counsellors, close friends, and teachers.
Legacy of Faith
I grew up in a family where reading the Bible, prayer, and church involvement were all part of regular life. It’s probably a toss-up between my parents or my preschool Sunday School teachers (which included my grandma) who first told me about who Jesus is and His love for me. That may seem pretty boring compared to some people’s journeys towards knowing Jesus, but I’ve learned to be really thankful that my story includes a (perhaps boring) Christian heritage that I learned to own for myself, that probably spared me from a lot of bad choices and pain.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him,
and His righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep His covenant
and remember to obey His precepts. (Psalm 103:17-18)
I remember talking and singing to Jesus from an early age even before any memory of praying to “officially” accept Jesus as my Saviour. And as I grew older, I grew to know more about the depth of who God is and the truth that He died – and rose again to life – to pay for my sin and brokenness.
… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24)
This is important. Romans 3:23 applies just as much to me – someone who grew up in the church – as to anyone. I knew from a pretty early age that I wasn’t perfect, and was quite capable of messing up and making wrong choices! If you’re a parent trying your best to raise your child(ren) to know and love Jesus, help them come to realize this truth too: by nature, we all fall short and need Jesus’ saving grace. Try not to just leave it to 1 hour during Sunday school once a week; don’t assume they’ll suddenly get it on their own. Tell them. Show them. If you’re not quite sure where to start, that’s okay. Check out Pastor Crystal’s blog post about this as a great starting point. It’s not about being a “good” person, because we’ll never measure up! It’s about realizing we aren’t good without Him – but good news – we can accept His offer to restore our brokenness from the inside out, 100%. That’s what Jesus died and rose to life for.
The Impact of Camp
I remember this truth sinking in more deeply for me when I was about 7 years old at the summer Bible camp I grew up going to in Northern Ontario. I remember my counsellor sharing what it meant for Jesus to be King in our lives, and I realized I needed to give Jesus full access to my life. That was the summer I surrendered to Jesus. If you’ve ever been a camp counsellor, know this: you have huge impact on the kids you care for. Eternal impact. Don’t miss out on the joy of seeing a youth come to Christ because you weren’t intentional enough to show and tell Jesus’ love for them at camp.
Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6)
Many camp staff over the years both showed and clearly shared who Jesus was with me growing up. This was really huge in understanding and developing my faith, and it made me want to step up and do the same when I became old enough to serve as staff at camp, too. But these faith-building summer experiences didn’t end there; my relationship with Jesus was solidified by being involved in church for the rest of the year, where other adults and peers beyond my family challenged and encouraged my continued spiritual growth.
So, How About You?
Who first told you about Jesus? Maybe it was one particular person who helped you understand the gospel, or maybe it was a bunch of intentional people in your life, like my story, who all played a role. Did you ever think to thank them? After all, these people were the messengers of life-changing news!
The question now is … what’s stopping me from telling someone else about Jesus?
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)
Written by Julie McPhail