What do you think when you hear those words?
Awkward? Peer pressure? Zits? Loneliness? Bullying?
Recently I witnessed an amazing opposite of the typical junior high experience. It all started when a young guy named Ethan was diagnosed with a rare cancer four years ago. Last year an 8th grader named Peter got his buddies together on Friday mornings to pray for Ethan at a middle school in Midlothian. He then started using I am Second materials as they met each week. When they opened it up to others, it immediately went to 80+ students.
Peter moved to the high school as a freshman. But some 7th graders picked up the slack and continued the Friday morning meetings this year. So we sent out a film team to capture this bittersweet story.
As our team unpacked their gear, the students started arriving–140+ of them! They had invited Peter back to talk to the group (so that morning was an exception in that they didn’t watch and discuss an IAS film, as they usually do). After his testimony, he passed the baton to a buddy who clearly presented the gospel. Then the students broke into a bunch of small groups and used the questions from the I am Second curriculum to discuss what they heard.
At the end of the group time a 7th grade girl whispered to her friend, “I want to accept Jesus today.” So a bunch of girls gathered around her and prayed. They then asked one of the dads there to come pray with them. Lots of tears. Wow. As one of the camera guys said, “that was a blessing I didn’t expect when I got up this morning.”
It was amazing. The teacher hosting the group in her classroom was there, but it was totally organized and led by students. Two 7th graders, a guy and a girl, were leading things. They had a leadership team, who led the small groups. They had everyone focused and running on a tight schedule. Groups were totally engaged in the discussion, even with the cameras and extra people in the room. Everything finished right on time, and the students left for first period class as the bell rang.
This whole story reminds me of how much students can (and will) do when they are given the reins and allowed to lead.
Jesus is using Ethan’s consistent faith–and the leadership of his classmates–to make an impact on his family, his school and his whole community. We plan to have this “story-doing” film ready in time for the start of school next fall.
Thanks for your support of I am Second, which enables us to help people encournter Jesus in unexpected places.
Executive Director, I am Second