|Teresa on one of our New York trips.|
I broke our time together into segments, during which we studied and participated in worship, prayer, bible study, fasting and meditation (both silent and guided). For myself (and everyone else I heard from) the guided meditation section was the one that was truly memorable. I led the students through a scenario in which they met Jesus by a lakeside, and He comes over to see each person individually. I remember that I had the concept in mind as we started and a few notes written down, but that for the most part I was winging it. In the midst of this improv, it seemed that the Holy Spirit just took over. This was no longer only a story I was telling- Jesus was there!
After asking about memories of Radical Sabbaticals last Saturday, I received an e-mail from Teresa Reep Tysinger ( a Hall of Fame inductee), who was one of the high school students present that day. She shared this with me, and told me I could share it with you.
"...this experience is one of the few moments -- maybe THE defining moment in my personal walk with Christ. For a teenage girl who often felt awkward, too self-conscious and lacking in many ways, it was such a RADICAL concept for me that Jesus would seek ME out of a crowd of people....amazing that Jesus would be happy to see ME....that I was the person Jesus was looking for. Awkward, self-conscious, not good enough ME. It was THE moment I realized this Jesus guy was sent for ME...died for ME...and would have done it all the same if I was the only one here needing salvation from my sins. ME."
Teresa went on to say that she also experienced the touch of the Holy Spirit that afternoon, and that she considers that to be the time when she really gave her life to Christ. All of us who were there knew we had experienced something special. I continued to lead Radical Sabbaticals for ten years after that weekend, and we had some more special times. But nothing ever matched that first event and those few moments we all spent standing by a lake with Jesus. Some things just can't be duplicated. Like sequels to great movies, the original is usually better. Except for Scooby Doo...
Those of us in student ministry spend a lot of time, effort and prayer hoping that we are making a difference in the lives of the young people we serve. I have always said that if in my 28 years of ministry I had done anything that brought even one person into the presence of Jesus that I would be happy and honored. So thank you, Teresa, for sharing your story, and for the work you still do for the Kingdom. You didn't know it when you wrote it, but your story completes mine. They say that one of the problems with being in youth ministry is that you don't really know if you made any difference in the lives of the students you work with for at least 10 years after they graduate. And now I know. "To God be the glory, great things He has done..."
Because of Jesus,