It started one afternoon after school when Lauri asked her young English teacher if she could drop by after school and talk. She did. They talked about lots of different things: Lauri’s abuse as a very young child in a South American country, her placement in an orphanage and her subsequent adoption by American parents at the age of five. While providing for her physical needs, this new family did not always provide emotional stability and nurturing. Anger and alcohol were deterrents to Lauri’s ever feeling real security. The teacher listened with interest and tender sympathy to her tell of loving and losing people who had come to mean a great deal to her. The overriding theme of her story surfaced again and again: this sweet fifteen-year-old needed and wanted family. She wanted the security of knowing there would be someone there–always– to listen and care. The haunting reality that, at one time, there had been a mother and a father who had mistreated and abandoned her kept surfacing in the conversation. The conversations between Lauri and her young teacher became more frequent and the idea of going back to South America to search for these biological parents kept coming up. It was almost as if a tormented memory rekindled was better than trying to forget those parents that had failed to love as parents. This teacher one day asked Lauri if she would like to study the Bible. Lauri thought about it for a few days and then responded positively.
And so they did. They met often after school and soon Lauri saw God’s plan for her salvation in the scriptures. Through a series of incidences and coincidences (really providential blessings) that occurred through the process of time, Lauri became a faithful New Testament Christian. Here’s how it happened….
At the time Lauri began meeting with her teacher, she was very much into the teen party scene. She drank, she cursed, she chose impure entertainment forms and once she even called her teacher in the middle of the night in a drunken stupor and threatened her life. But still the teacher stayed connected and kept reminding her that God could change her life. Lauri’s teacher finally got married and left the town where Lauri lived, but it wasn’t long until Lauri bumped into her teacher’s new father-in-law, a gospel preacher at a church where Lauri’s grandmother attended, and he studied with her a bit more. It was he who baptized Lauri. Shortly thereafter, she bumped into her teacher’s cousin and sister-in-law (who were dating one another) on the university campus near Lauri’s home. They continued studying with her and this young man invited Lauri to go to a Christian camp with his family. On this trip, she met lots of people who encouraged her, including several more members of her teacher’s family. I personally was able to spend time with Lauri a few weeks ago at another Christian camp, where she received the Christian leadership award. Sometimes Lauri will text me and say, “Can we study together by phone this week? It’s been a while since I had a good Bible study.” Sometimes she will facebook me and say “Hope you’re having a good day. Love ya!” She’s an enthusiastic Digging Deep podcast listener. Lauri has plans to attend a Christian university in a couple of years. She’s pretty determined to live for Him. She’s pretty goal oriented in areas of spiritual growth and, in her words, she now “has a family.”
Sometimes it’s just good for us to hear a story like Lauri’s. But today, I hope we can take a few lessons from Lauri and her mentors:
- Conversations are almost always the beginning points of conversions. Prayer for opportunities in your daily conversations will enable you to be evangelistic in those conversations. This particular young teacher really did not mean to even be teaching school. As she took this teaching job that just sort of unexpectedly came up and then kept beckoning, she prayed that God would help her see a good reason for placing her in this position in life. Lauri was one very good reason she now sees.
- Everyone needs a family. The need for belonging to an intimate group is deeply ingrained in us and when good family is missing, children will replace family with something. Often, that something is not good.
- The goal of our conversations with those of the world should be targeted to finally come to a good juncture at which we can ask the question, “Would you like to study the Bible with me?”
- Sometimes the person who may be most teachable is not the person who appears to be closest to the kingdom.
- School teachers are often strategically placed to be able to reach tender souls with the message of Christ. The jobs of teachers are difficult, but they can do much and lasting good. One counselor recently asked one of his abused kids in teen therapy, “Is there anyone in your life who ever impressed you as the kind of person you really want to be?” This young man answered his therapist, “Yes, it was a teacher in my ninth grade English class.” He named this teacher and it was the same teacher who influenced Lauri. Teachers, you do not even know your potential for good and you may never know which students are absorbing the goodness that is in you.
- Grandparents can play pivotal roles in the lives of their grandchildren, particularly when parents are not faithful to the Lord.
- God’s providence is faithful to allow learning opportunities to those who are truly seeking His Will for their lives.
- Preachers and their wives are often doubly blessed with evangelism opportunities. Always look for the visitors to your services, remembering they have already expressed an interest in things of the Lord, just by being present. Have a card ready with your number sp that you can ask them to call later if they have questions or would like to study.
- College students have opportunities to influence high school students in major ways. Don’t underestimate or waste those opportunities if you are in this stage of life.
- Good Christian camps can be very important to struggling teens.
- Sometimes, it takes a family working together to provide for the spiritual needs of a prospective convert or a new baby in the Lord. I have been truly amazed at how family members of this teacher have kept popping up in Lauri’s life. Both sides of this teacher’s family have been introduced at various places and times to Lauri. These are people who live in three different states! God is good!
- God’s family is the best family.