Friday is my favorite day of the week, but it isn’t just because its the last day of school before the weekend, though that is a bonus! This year, there are a number of incredible things about Fridays, such as the fact that my first class on a Friday starts at 10:50 a.m., or that I get to play rugby on Friday afternoons, or even that the grade 9 service learning class meets on Fridays. But the best part about Fridays is YoungLife club.
Last spring, I started volunteering as a leader for the HOPAC YoungLife club. If you’re not familiar with YoungLife, it is an organization that seeks to share Jesus with youth through relationship-building. There’s of course tons more information on their website, but for me, the relational focus was key to my involvement. My experiences at Miracle Mountain Ranch, where older, college-age students and adults took a vested interest in my life, and through that, showed me that Christ too wanted a relationship with me that was more than a “religion,” made relational discipling of youth one of my passions. So when I found out about YoungLife, and had finally gotten to the point where dealing with the stresses of a new culture and new curriculum and new language and new life allowed me to engage in a few more extracurricular activities, I started asking about getting involved.
Fast forward to the 2014-2015 school year.
Now, I am taking an active role as one of the five YoungLife club leaders at HOPAC. This includes helping to plan the clubs, leading games, and speaking on occasion, as well as investing in the lives of students wherever possible. [Side note: Just to be clear, the teachers at HOPAC who are not a part of YoungLife clubs also invest in students’ lives in enormous ways–this isn’t something exclusive to me and YoungLife leaders–its part of the culture of HOPAC.] Leading games, singing crazy songs, and sharing stories of who God is are all things that drove me to return to Miracle Mountain Ranch as summer staff year after year after year. And now I get to do it every Friday in Tanzania. How cool is that?
A few weeks ago, I was blessed to have the opportunity to speak on one aspect of who Jesus is. As a team of leaders, the Scripture we chose was Mark 5:25-34, where Jesus heals the woman who reached out and touched him, focusing on the idea that Jesus cares about individuals and wants to know them on a personal level. Sometimes, when sharing, I find that I am speaking as much to myself as to anyone listening. This was one of those times. The notes from my message are below, but it was perfect timing that I gave this message just as I was once again questioning whether “anyone cared” (i.e. having a pity party). And the answer is yes. Jesus cares (and a lot of people care too, but sometimes I ignore that fact).
Jesus Wants to Know YOUR Story
October 3, 2014
When I was in ninth grade, I was a stereotypical horse-crazy teenage girl. Except for the fact that I wasn’t cute, I wasn’t skinny, I wasn’t athletic, and I didn’t care about boys. I was tall, gangly, awkward, not at all athletic, and shy. But I loved horses. So when school was out for the summer, I went to a week-long horse camp. I didn’t know anyone there, and I was just one of three hundred other kids who were there for the week to have fun and ride horses. I remember sitting on the front step of my bunkhouse, lonely, a bit afraid, and nervous for the week ahead when an older, college-age girl who I had seen working in the barn, came over and sat down beside me. It was a bit like if I was a thirteen year old girl who had just met Justin Bieber—this was someone who actually worked at the camp with the horses and she was talking to me. This girl, Nik, asked me questions—my name, where I was from, if I’d ridden before, etc. Then she invited me to work with her in the barn—something that campers didn’t normally get to do. All of a sudden, I wasn’t lonely. I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t nervous. Someone cared enough to want to hear my story and to take time for me.
What Nik later shared with me was way bigger than her sitting on a cabin step with a lonely, awkward teenager: it changed my world. She told me that Jesus wants to know MY story.
And its true. He doesn’t just want to know my story. He wants to know YOUR story.
In Mark 5:25-34, Jesus was preaching to a huge crowd, when a ruler, Jairus, came to him and begged him to follow him to his house to heal his daughter. On his way there, Jesus was walking through a “great crowd”—imagine walking through a mass of people, maybe in Kariakoo. In that crowd of people, there was a woman. She’s not named in Scripture, but she had been bleeding for twelve years. The Bible says, she had “suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.” This illness meant that she was unclean—others in the community could not touch her, she was isolated, rejected, abandoned. For twelve entire years. And no one could help her. She went to every doctor, spent loads of money, with no results. She only got worse.
At this point, she must have been completely hopeless. But she had heard of the miracles and healing Jesus had been doing, and so fought through the crowd to get close enough to Jesus to touch his clothes, believing that if she touched even his clothes, she would be healed. Talk about guts. This woman was desperate. If anyone in the crowd had noticed her, she would have been thrown out for being unclean. But she fought through the crowd anyway.
When she reached out and touched Jesus’s clothing, it says that “immediately….she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.”
Now, that’s cool. But the story doesn’t end there.
The next verses read, “And Jesus, perceiving that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said ‘Who touched my garments?’” Remember, he’s walking through an enormous crowed. People are most likely pushing and shoving, and touching everybody constantly. But Jesus stopped and looked around to see who it was that had touched him.
At this point, the woman, “knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.”
Jesus stopped to hear this unnamed woman’s story, despite his promise to the ruler to go and heal his daughter. In human eyes, Jairus’ daughter was more important than this woman who had been unclean, rejected, despised for the last twelve years. But Jesus does not see one person as more important than another. He stopped to hear her.
In that entire crowd, it is unlikely that anyone had ever heard this woman’s story. “Oh her. We don’t talk to her.” But Jesus gave her a voice. Now, everyone who reads Matthew, Mark, or Luke reads this woman’s story. Jesus wasn’t concerned with his own reputation. He wasn’t concerned with who was most important. He wasn’t concerned even with “getting a job done.” He cared about HER, a “nobody.”
Jesus wants to know YOUR story too. He wants to stop and listen to you.
Even if you don’t feel important. Even if you feel alone. Even if you feel unwanted.
The very God of the universe. The God who breathes out stars.
He wants to know YOUR story.
I don’t know about you guys, but when I first understood that—when it became real for me, that changed my life. What an incredible, incredible thing—that God wants to know ME.
Not because I’m cool, or popular, or good-looking, or have mad skills….(‘cuz I don’t!)
He wants to know ME just because I’m me.
He wants to know YOU just because you’re you.
What about you?
Last week, Ben asked “Who do you believe Jesus is?”
Today, if Jesus is who He says He is, what part of your story would you fight through a crowd to reach out and share with Him? Do you think Jesus would stop for you?
I promise you He will.
All that to say, that I love Fridays because of YoungLife club.