I’ve known for sometime that she has been questioning her faith, the reality of God’s existence, His character, His relevancy in her life. Over the last couple of years, I’ve prayed often for this sweet young girl to know for herself how deep and how wide and limitless God’s love is for her. I’ve taken many chances to pray with her, for her, and to share God’s Word with her, among other precious young teenagers I’ve met during my first 4 years here in France. A while ago, while travelling to an event in Paris with many church friends, this sweet young girl along with one other kiddo from our church, asked if she could ride along in my car. Little did I know, God was giving me a divine appointment–He had planned this all along.
En route, what felt like quite out of nowhere, she asked me “Jenn, have you always been a Christian?”
My heart literally LEPT within me when she asked. I thought, ‘God! You are SO awesome, you’re giving me this incredible chance to tell this sweet young girl who you ARE, who you have been for me, how you have proven your character again and again and again. With an enormous smile on my face, I took a deep breath, thanked God in a brief thoughtful prayer, and turned and looked at this precious soul and said, “No, my darling girl. No, I have not always been a Christian. I didn’t meet Jesus until I was 16. I was 16 years old when I got saved.”
It’s a JOY for me to just write this story for you. I’m sitting in a café right now, enjoying watching people coming and going, breathing in the sounds and smells of this familiar place, thanking God for the sun shining (finally!) outside. And I feel JOY to simply sit here and reflect and worship God for this amazing chance He gave me to share candidly, privately, naturally who He is and what He has done for me with a beautiful young girl who is searching for Him.
This, my friends, is what life is made of. The profound unmatchable joy of telling the truth about who God is and literally giving hope to another soul. This is what I live for.
Just then, the other sweet kiddo, riding in the back seat of the car, said “what’s that? what’s that mean, ‘you were saved’?” Another rush of joy swelled in my heart and made the enormous smile on my face grow even more. I replied: “to be saved means that we trusted God for the first time ever, we believed in Jesus, that He really did die for our sins and saved us from sin and death, and we asked Him to be Lord of our lives and decided to follow Him. That’s just one way to say it ‘to be saved’.”
I was moved and humbled by how intently they both listened as I spoke. I was overcome with gratitude that the Lord (and these sweet precious kiddos) trusted me to speak to them about such things. I was praising God internally throughout the whole conversation.
Continuing to reply to the young teenage girl, I shared my story of salvation in a way I hadn’t exactly said it before. Maybe it was because I was praying internally the whole time, or because the Lord knew I wanted so desperately to make this moment count to help them know Him, but I felt the Spirit guiding my words.
These are the moments I live for.
I shared that while I was growing up, sometimes we went to church, and I always had a desire to go to church and often asked if we could go. I learned many things as I child, I think, but somehow I never understood that all those stories about God were real, that the people of the Bible were actually historically real humans who lived here on planet earth. I simply never knew it was literal history, it happened, it was true. And, by God’s grace and plan, it happened that I attended a protestant church service for the first time when I was 16. And the pastor preached a simple message from the Bible and explained who Jesus was and what He did and why, and what on earth that had to do with our daily lives today, in the 21st century as humans. As I listened, I simply knew with complete certainty that everything he was saying was completely true.
“It felt like home in my heart.”, I said.
When that pastor invited anyone who wished to pray and accept Jesus as Lord and believe Him for who he is, I raised my hand fervently, joyfully and I prayed. I prayed and I was saved. By God’s grace, and absolutely nothing I had ever done or could ever do. And from that moment on I was “all in”. I wanted to learn everything there was to know about every single one of those people in the Bible and their lives and their history and where they lived on earth. And I became addicted to God’s Word and that addiction has only led to good things in my life everyday and has grown and deepened more and more over time.
They listened intently, often looking at me as I drove.
I was silent for a moment. And then I looked at the sweet girl next to me and said “It was the best day of my life. That was hands-down without a doubt the best day of my life and the best decision I ever made.”
“Why?”, she asked.
I felt my smile grow again, and sighed a deep breath of sheer pure relief at the thought. “Because I am not afraid anymore.”, I replied. “I used to be terrified all the time. I can’t even explain it. When I was a kid, I was always afraid. I was afraid for the future, I was afraid for my family, I was afraid for myself. I was always afraid. And now, I know for sure 100% completely no doubt in my mind that I don’t have to be afraid anymore. Because I KNOW who Jesus is. I know His character, I know His kindness, I know how GOOD HE IS. Because of His Word, His Spirit, being in a relationship with Him everyday. And I know He is in control and He is Good and He has a plan for everything and He loves me more than I could ever know. And I know everything is going to be okay, because of Jesus.”
We smiled at each other and I reached over to hold her hand.
I felt like this divine appointment from God wasn’t quite finished yet. I asked her, “How about you? Are you a Christian?” I felt myself hold my breath and continued to pray in my head that God’s Holy Spirit would guide me and speak through me if He wanted to.
She replied, “I don’t know. I am not sure if I believe all this because it’s what my parents and other people have told me or if I really believe it.” Whew. Deep breath. More prayers racing from my thoughts to God’s ears.
I replied, “You’re right, darling girl. You do have a choice to make. You do get to choose whether or not you actually believe that Jesus is who He says He is. And you know what?, He’s listening. You can ask Him. If you need proof, if you need to hear His voice, if you need Him to tell you, just ask. Just ask Him. ‘Lord, are you real? Are you there? Who are you?’. And I can promise you that He is listening and He will answer. Because He is faithful and He loves you.”
I told both those amazing kiddos they can count on me to pray with them and for them and help them ask their questions in any way I could. And, just then, we arrived at the event and it was time to park the car and head in. I could have done cartwheels down the street I was so happy. At the same time, I feel very acutely the weight of eternity on my chest when I think about how important it is to share the truth and how desperately I want everyone to really know who Jesus is. I love those kiddos so, so dearly. Will you please pray with me for them, that they would know God personally and experience the depth of His love for them individually and specifically and know Him as their Father and Savior?
Thank you for praying with me.
THANK YOU for partnering with me in support–YOU are making it possible with your support for me to be here, sharing God’s truth, making disciples, caring for God’s people, and inviting everyone to know Him.
We are pushing back darkness together. Thank you.
There is a immediate need for new monthly partners to support this church planting and discipleship ministry with me in Paris, at whatever amount is right for you and your investment in missions. 19 new partners at $50 monthly will meet our monthly needs to keep on going with this amazing work! If you would like to be part of this team of incredible people following the Great Commission, click here.
- Please pray: for our beautiful (young) church plant, that God’s Word would be center always and His people would love His Word
- Please pray: For upcoming trip stateside to visit supporters, supporting churches, and invite new partners to support this gospel-proclaiming, church planting, discipleship ministry in Paris
- Please pray: against spiritual attack on God’s people here in Paris
- Please pray: for the annual conference for TEAM missionaries in France that I am organizing to care for, build up, and support our great TEAM network across France. Please pray that God would use the time to mold us into His image more and more. We come together twice a year and I pray for God to build us up as His church so that we may serve out of a place of strength and centeredness on Him.
With all my love,