I had never seen the Gospel so vibrantly lived out! Every day… Even every meal started with songs of praise. Throughout the day, needy people knocked on the mission base door to seek help. Help for feeding their children. Help for paying their medical bills. Sometimes, just an ear to listen. The missionaries prayed with them and helped them in whatever way they could.
This past week I was left breathless and inspired at the same moment. My daddy Jim, the man whose love for my mother gave me life, breathed his last breath. It was a sudden death that brought him into eternal life. His life inspired me in more ways than a three minute eulogy can ever proclaim and to this moment he continues to inspire me.
Since starting my college career, I have seen both a member of my graduating class and a onetime friend that I have grown up with take their own lives. I have seen the pain and sadness that it causes to their friends and family alike and it chills me to think that not very long ago, that could have been me. I thank God every day, that I had all the wonderful people of Life Teen to show me God’s love personified in the world, because without you… I truly don’t know if I would be here today.
On Saturday evening of that week, I led my teens to a hotel on Copacabana beach to watch the Papal Prayer Vigil from above. I decided I was too “worn out” to actually sit on the beach with the other 3 million people (#WeakSauce). When we arrived in the hotel I sat down on the couch watching everything on TV. After a few minutes on the couch, I looked over to the balcony; my teens were eagerly kneeling in adoration.
I accepted a ministry position at a parish that had a floundering youth ministry program, and was confident I would rebuild it. In fact, at one of my first staff meetings I boldly declared that, “by the end of the year, there will be at least 100 teens at every Life Night.” I am the youth ministry messiah, and I have come to save your parish.
I could share my faith with anyone at my college, even become a full-time missionary where I would live a life of sharing, yet when I was home why was it so difficult to share Jesus with my own dad?
I promised myself that I would do all that I could to show him the love of Christ. I wrote him a long letter recalling all the ways I saw Christ in him and letting him know how much I loved and respected him in spite of all we had gone through. After this something began to change in his heart; an openness I hadn’t seen before.