Years ago when I was a youth pastor in Dallas, a radical young man and his sister came to a youth service. They had body piercings, spiked hair, grunge clothing, and one even had a paper clip chain from the hole in their ear to the hole in their lip.

That night both of them surrendered their life to Jesus Christ. It was awesome to reach someone who had never heard the Gospel.
The next week they faithfully came back and started their new journey with Christ. They were interested in going on our fall retreat the upcoming weekend but they didn't have the money. I told them we would cover their registration fee and I would love to have them come.

Then Jason pulled the crumpled retreat brochure out of his pocket and pointed to the list of things "not to bring." He said, "I really want to go on this thing but I can't go an entire weekend without a cigarette. What do I do?"

I told him, "You and your sister come on Friday and when you arrive give me your cigarettes and lighters and I will allow you to have a periodic smoke break."

Are You Kidding?
Watch out, your religious antivirus may be kicking in on your holy computer about now. I can hear it, "Are you nuts? I can't believe you would seriously give a kid a smoke break on a church event!"

I throw a similar question back to you. "I can't believe you would shun a new born baby believer because they still have a "mess or two" in their life."

I'm not talking about a kid who has been raised in church and has been a Christian since he was five. I'm as fed up as you are with carnal Christians who call sin a "weakness" and have never grown or matured in their walk with Christ.

However, let's not lose focus of who we are trying to reach. Jason was exactly the kind of "guest" I wanted in attendance at my services. If a guy like Jason and his sister walked into your service this week how would you, your team, or youth group respond?

Some of you may have already judged me as a lunatic, I can tell I've made others head's spin, while yet some of you think it is awesome. Before you judge me all the way let me tell you "the rest of the story."

I told Jason and his sister Kari I was going to stretch them a little over the weekend. They each were used to smoking about a pack a day. (By the smell of things they had hit it heavy in preparation for the retreat._

After a two-hour bus ride we arrived at the camp and both of them hunted me down and asked for a smoke. I told them they could have one after service. They took a deep breathe and sighed and thought they could make it.

What they didn't realize was a camp service lasted much longer than our weekly youth service. By the time the service was over Jason and Kari came running over with a desperate look. "Can we have one now—PLEASE?"

Down To Four...
The three of us took a walk down the trail into the shadows and behind an old cabin where their youth pastor reached in his pocket and handed them each one cigarette and lit them up. They sucked them right down to the filter.

The same event took place three more times that weekend—only four cigarettes the entire weekend!

For the next six months both of them continued to grow and develop in their walk with Christ, but then they moved out of town and I lost contact with them. About four years later I was at a Christian concert and a guy in a suit walks up to me and says, "Hey Dean, do you remember me?"

"Uhh, yah, sure...." I had no clue who this guy was.

He was a sharp looking, well groomed guy in his 20's. Then he said, "Dean it's me, Jason!"

Whoa! The same guy I was taking behind a cabin for a smoke break a few years earlier was now in Bible College, serving God, and pursuing a career in reaching people for Jesus Christ.

Let's remember to look for the potential in each one of the kids we serve. Don't be moved by what you see. Often they just need someone to believe in them-let that be you.

God believes in teenagers so much that he entrusted two of them to bring the Messiah into the world.

Copyright © 2005 Dean Hawk Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.