Because We Loved You

Because We Loved You

Bob Ayres

“Because we loved you, it was a joy to us to give you not only the gospel of God but our very hearts—so dear did you become to us.” 1 Thessalonian 2:8 (Phillips)

Naomi was 14 years old, the oldest of four siblings. After her mother died suddenly two years ago, her grandmother stepped in to raise Naomi and her siblings.

Naomi got connected with Youth For Christ through our Deaf Teen Quest ministry. One day, she ate dinner with some students and staff after a DTQ event. She observed as we sat down, put food on the table, prayer together, and started eating. Kathy and I asked each of the kids about their days.

“How’s school going? What’s coming up next for you?”

Finally, Naomi straightened up and quietly said, “You waited for each other, you brought the food, you prayed, and you talk to each other… I’ve never experienced this before… and I like it!”

The next year, Naomi made a personal faith commitment to follow Jesus.

Naomi was the only Deaf person in her family, and like so many others, her life was defined by isolation. One child is born with hearing loss for every 1,000 hearing children. Only two of every ten Deaf children are born into language-rich, signing environments; 80% of the families of Deaf children do not sign.

Deaf Teen Quest creates opportunities for caring, Christian adults to enter the world of Deaf and Hard of Hearing teenagers like Naomi, with the grace and truth of Jesus Christ.

We share not only the gospel, but our very lives as well.

Let’s look closely at this scripture that is so foundational to our mission.

“Because we loved you…” Relational ministry is entering the world of lost and hurting people because we care, and God calls. We don’t need all the answers; we go with the answer-giver, the Holy Spirit. We are just called by God to go and keep our hearts open. Sometimes, this ministry requires a thick skin, but it always involves a tender heart for young people.

“… it was a joy to us to give you not only the gospel of God…” Relational ministry is simply being honest about what we’ve learned, experienced, or read about God in the Scriptures or from other dependable sources. We don’t have permission to make it up. We pass it on in a context that makes sense for each unique person or people group.

“…but our very hearts—so dear did you become to us.” Relational ministry is about removing barriers to the gospel. The lack of trust is often one of the major obstacles. People are not projects; they are image-bearers of our God. Love them longer than they can hurt; pursue them farther than they can run. We do this because we love them.

We all have insecurities, doubts, and fears when it comes to sharing our story with people who do not yet know Jesus. Yet, God’s story is so woven into our story that it is natural to share this part as well. For me, it helps to remember that I do not have to convince or convict anyone of their sin. That is the role of the Holy Spirit. As followers of Jesus, we simply have to go, listen, love, and be honest. Like Jesus, we go full of grace and truth. We trust God, to do what only God can do. Our primary responsibility is to remove barriers and create space for the Holy Spirit to move. Sometimes, it’s as simple as inviting lost and hurting young person to the dinner table.

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