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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Youth Alive: Ask Me About Jesus

By Emily Tharp
July 01, 2012

Chris Johnson of Grapevine, Texas, carries a worn-out backpack, printed with the faded words “Ask me about Jesus,” to school each day. That backpack, known as a Fire Pack, was given to Johnson when he became a campus missionary in the summer of 2011.

After hearing a presentation by Kyle Embry, Youth Alive missionary with the North Texas District of the Assemblies of God, something sparked inside of Johnson.

“I felt like I was all alone at my school,” Johnson says. “It didn’t feel like a lot of other people served God. The campus missionary program made me realize I wasn’t alone in this walk. Other people are by my side.”

Once Johnson signed up to be an official campus missionary, he was issued his Fire Pack, which includes a Fire Bible: Student Edition, a CD containing resources like devotionals and discussion guides, and 10 copies of the Book of Hope. From the moment he received his pack, Johnson has worked hard to bring about spiritual change at Grapevine High School.

Johnson promptly handed out the copies of the Book of Hope and realized he would need more — a lot more. He connected with Embry for the first time since the missionary spoke at Johnson’s school, and the two worked out a way to get more books to Johnson on a regular basis. He continues to hand them out as quickly as students will take them: up to 100 every two months.

Embry is amazed. “You call his voice mail and this is his recording: ‘Hey, this is Chris Johnson, campus missionary to Grapevine High school.’ He has completely taken ownership of doing something great for God,” Embry says.

Each day, Johnson takes five to 10 Book of Hope copies to school and plans on handing them all out.

“I really love the Book of Hope because it’s my biggest campus missionary tool. There are a lot of people to reach and a lot of need for the books,” Johnson says. In a school of 2,000, Johnson says he still has a lot of work to do and a lot of students who want the books.

It’s not always easy for Johnson to share the gospel, however. At a previous school he faced opposition from the administration. Even at Grapevine there are students who reject his offer of the Book of Hope.

“Some people do have walls built up, and they don’t want God to intervene” Johnson says. “I pray over the books, that God will break down those walls and come into their hearts.”

One day last February, God did just that when a young man who had been hostile toward Johnson’s efforts asked him for prayer. Johnson says he’d been praying for that student for a long time. “I was so happy because I’d been waiting all year for God to break down those walls.”

According to Johnson, another student says she keeps the Book of Hope by her bed and reads it nightly for encouragement.

“I love hearing stories about how the Book of Hope has helped because it reminds me that God’s really using me to help this school.”

Another reason Johnson believes so strongly in handing out the Book of Hope is the call to salvation at the end of the book. He can’t always get into the details of the gospel at school, but being able to hand out the Book of Hope ensures that his fellow students can get all the necessary information.

“At the end of the Book of Hope, you have the chance to make the choice of a lifetime and devote yourself to God,” Johnson says. “Knowing they will read that gives me hope and so much joy.” This joy, he says, gives him the ability to be more passionate and bold in what he does.

Even so, Johnson says, there are times when being a campus missionary can be rough.

“Some days you’re just not up to it. Either you didn’t get enough sleep or you’re worried about juggling everything, and sometimes you just don’t think about sharing because you’re so tired,” Johnson says.

Although balancing home, work, school and being a campus missionary can be hard, Johnson believes that every second is a gift from God he doesn’t want to waste. “I want everyone to see the love of Christ in me,” he says.

In total, Johnson has handed out between 350 and 400 Book of Hope copies to his fellow students, with more planned.

“That’s why I became a campus missionary — to reach those people. It’s an awesome experience to walk these halls and know that you’re making a difference,” Johnson says.

EMILY THARP is editorial assistant of the Pentecostal Evangel.

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