‘I had no idea’
LONDON — From my seat in the balcony, I could see
musicians filing into the orchestra pit and London’s aristocrats perching
themselves in the luxury boxes. It was my first Broadway-like musical, and I
was soaking it in like a kid visiting an amusement park for the first time.
My observations were interrupted, however, when a college
student shuffled down our aisle. She apologized for stepping on my toes, then
let out a sigh of relief as she fell into the seat next to me.
“I made it,” she said with an American accent.
“Are you from the States?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’m here for the summer studying. What brings you to
London?” she asked.
“I’m on my way home from a relief effort in Africa.”
Her eyes widened. “I’m studying international social work,”
I sensed this might be a divine appointment rather than an
inconvenient interruption. Over the next 20 minutes, the student peppered me
with questions about the compassion work of the Assemblies of God and Convoy of
She confided that she had joined a church — one
considered by many to be a cult — because she wanted to dedicate her life
to helping people. Though she didn’t agree with the church’s teachings, it had
afforded her an opportunity to help the poor.
“I had no idea other churches like the Assemblies of God
were so committed to helping people,” she said.
It was obvious the Holy Spirit was speaking to her heart.
But our conversation ended abruptly when the lights flickered, the music
started and the curtains lifted.
After the cast had taken its final bow and the curtains
dropped, I handed the girl my business card and encouraged her to check out
Convoy of Hope’s Web site.
Several months later, I received an e-mail from her
indicating that she was leaving her church to pursue “other doors.”
I never heard from her again, but the brief conversation
confirmed what I already knew: Future generations of young people will connect
with churches that are concerned about meeting the physical and spiritual needs
of suffering people. They will gravitate to churches that proclaim the gospel
and emulate Jesus by feeding the hungry and providing pure drinking water to
In turn, they will dismiss churches that preach love and
compassion but ignore the plight of malnourished children, AIDS victims, drug
addicts, the homeless and more. They have no time for “sanctuary-centered
religion” when they’ve been called to be Christ’s ambassadors to cities and
countries being infected with disease, poverty and sin. They have no interest
in watching from a church balcony as their world implodes and people die. They
would rather be on the world stage rescuing lives for eternity.
For most, their loyalty is not to a particular denomination
or fellowship. Their priority (or loyalty) is to Kingdom-impact and
opportunity. As a church, let us recommit ourselves to preparing our young
people for service, creating ministry opportunities, and sending them to touch
the world for Christ.
HAL DONALDSON is president and co-founder of Convoy of Hope.
E-mail your comments to email@example.com.