I felt impressed by the Spirit to ask him to preach. Japheth has a unique gift of leadership—the quiet, humble, servant-like kind—as well as an intense desire to understand the relevancy of the Scriptures more intimately in order to be able to share with others. I saw in him a potential for something great. So, for the next few months I kept asking him to preach for our next youth Sabbath. Time and again he would decline my offers, slyly change the subject, or outright reject my gentle encouragement.
Then, one day he made a statement I couldn’t ignore. “Pastor Anna, to be honest I’ve continued to reject your offers to preach because I don’t feel it would be right since I’m not yet baptized.” I felt the Spirit urging the words out of me before I could think. “Is that something you’d like to change? Would you like to be baptized?” I asked him.
The words that came next were as sweet as if I had just received a marriage proposal.
“Yes. And after I’ve come up from the waters a new person, I will preach!” he said.
I asked the Spirit to permeate our Bible studies in the weeks to come, to captivate us, to inspire us, to enlighten us, and to work miracles not only on behalf of this eager young man, but for our whole youth group. And instantly those prayers were answered. The week after Japheth and I began studying, Griffin came and asked to be baptized. Two weeks later, Bridgit came and asked as well. In two more weeks, Hannah and Becca came desiring baptism. It wasn’t the number that surprised me; it was the condition of their hearts—their yearning for a deeper relationship with Christ. I was humbled by the affirmation that it wasn’t my job to convict and convert. It was the work of the One whom the Father had sent to draw us closer to Him.
What started as a short Bible study series lasted many months because of their passion to know the Scriptures better. And frankly, we were having so much fun! At times their tough questions motivated me to dig for answers, and cultivated lengthy Spirit-filled conversations as we wrestled together in becoming more authentic Christians in today’s culture.
Overwhelmed by the vision of what I saw God calling this/our generation of youth and young adults to become, I heard an audible voice declare these youth to be the Daniels in today’s Babylon. With unique talents and gifts, and an urgent testimony, they will be called to places we once deemed too evil to break into with the gospel—places like Hollywood and corrupt billion-dollar corporations, politics and media. God is equipping this generation with truth and calling them to live in the world without being of the world.
On May 18 and June 1 these five youth went into the waters of baptism and came up as new creations, transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit, ready to discover and fulfill the calling God is working out to completion. I can’t wait to see how God will use them to bring about His soon coming!
Author Anna Romuald is assistant pastor of the Southview Church in Minneapolis.