Getting outside yourself

[tweetmeme source=”joshdecker” only_single=false]Last weekend I took some students on a winter retreat.  The speaker was good, and we saw 30 kids make decisions for Christ.  Praise God!  But what we learned on this trip was more from something I was inspired to do with the group than the planned activities.

As I was listening to the speaker Friday night and Saturday morning, I was really struggling with how to challenge our students to go beyond where they were, to really stretch.  We took a smaller group this year, kids who are more serious about growing, and I knew we had an opportunity we don’t always have.  So I took them to the mall.

What, the mall?  You bet.  I challenged our kids.  Before I took them, they all committed to meeting my challenge.  I paired them off, shy kids with more outgoing kids, and sent them into a mall that looked like it was experiencing the Christmas rush all over again.

The challenge: pray!

I asked them to find at least two people and see if there was anything they could pray with them about.  I was amazed that between the 4 groups we had, we touched not 8 people, but almost 20!  What was even more amazing was seeing how God had prepared the way in advance.

One of the groups ran into a woman whose grandson is having surgery on his chest cavity.  They prayed with her.  A couple minutes later she found them again, this time with her daughter, the mother of the little boy.  She thanked them again for praying with her, tears coming down her cheeks.

Wait, it doesn’t stop there!

Meanwhile, in a different area of the mall, one of the other groups was praying with the grandfather of the same little boy.

We don’t always know what God is doing.  What did I learn from this experience?  Don’t be stuck on a plan.  Be open to what God is leading, and you may just change someone’s life.

By the way, our students, as I was debriefing them, were really excited about the experience.  All said they were extremely nervous getting started, but most ended up having fun.  I think it challenged them to get outside themselves, and to step up to the plate to visibly care about others.

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