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And exhausted.  And exhilarated.  And…so many other things.  I’ve just returned from spending a week with the high school and college kids at my church.  We went to Owego, NY (think Middle of Nowhere, USA and you’ve got it about right) to serve the people of that area by fixing up houses, building porches and wheelchair ramps and just showing them God’s love.  I still can’t wrap my head around everything that happened, but I do know this: My heart is so full of joy and love for the people I spent the week with that it makes me tear up whenever I think about it!

Now normally, when I go on a trip like this, I ask God to change me, to grow my faith and to teach me something new about Himself.  I prayed the same thing before and during this trip.  I’m not sure that prayer was answered in the way I prayed it.  But I couldn’t be more grateful.

This week, instead of seeing changes in my own life, and seeing my own faith stretched and challenged, I saw my prayer answered in the people I was with. 

The Bible tells us to “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1) and “be prepared to give an answer” to those who question your faith (1 Peter 3:15).  Going into this week, I never imagined that the kids I was with would need to do either of these things while they were at Workcamp.  But as it turns out, not everyone who claims to be a Christian really believes the Bible (shocking, I know).

This week, that’s exactly what I saw “my” kids doing.  They came back from their worksites with stories of leaders who don’t believe in hell and fellow campers making fun of them for worshipping.  Naturally, they were upset about what they were encountering, but you know what they did?  They tested the spirits and they were ready to give answers for what they believed and why they believed it.  They didn’t just meet the challenge, they crushed it!

The full verse in 1 Peter says this:

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. 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…

This week, I had the incredible privilege of seeing 15 and 16 year old kids do exactly that.  And it was an even more beautiful sight than any of the waterfalls and rock formations I saw on our way home.

Are you prepared to defend what you believe, even to those who claim to be “Christians”?  Parents, teachers & youth leaders, what are you doing to encourage your kids in their faith?

I am so proud of “my” kids, but even more than that, I know that their Father is proud of them.  And really, His is the only opinion that matters!