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Adventist Mission

Nathan

Teen With a Mission

To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, March 30.

By Andrew McChesney

N

athan was 6 years old when his family returned home to India after serving as missionaries in Lebanon. He was a small boy and didn’t have any interest in missionaries or mission work.

But things changed when Nathan was 12. He became fascinated by the children’s mission stories that he heard Sabbath after Sabbath in church. Soon he began to read old copies of the Children’s Mission quarterly and sometimes even the youth and adult Mission quarterly. As he read the stories, he longed to do something for God.

He thought, “If God can use children the same age as me and even younger, why can’t He use me as a mission?”

A year passed. Two years passed. Three years passed. Nathan was 15, and he still felt like he hadn’t done anything for God in mission.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic shut down India for months. Nathan’s father was a pastor and, at the request of parents, organized an online Bible study group for teens stuck at home during the lockdown. The online group quickly grew to 15 teens, and a number of little children under 10 also joined in.

Then Nathan heard his father tell his mother, “The smaller ones aren’t fitting in. The group has two distinct levels of learning.”

As Nathan lay in bed that night, he felt impressed to start a Bible group for the younger children.

At breakfast, he shared his thoughts with his parents. They welcomed the idea and encouraged him to start right away. Nathan excitedly looked through the home library for materials. He decided that each meeting he would read a Bible story from Arthur Maxwell’s The Bible Story and lead a short Bible study from Linda Koh’s God Loves Me 28 Ways.

God blessed the efforts. Soon children were joining the Bible group from around the neighborhood and even other parts of India. Up to 12 children joined each weekly meeting.

Doing More

Nathan enjoyed leading the Bible group. He felt like God was finally using him for mission. But he longed to do something more.

As COVID-19 restrictions were being lifted about a year later, he heard a sermon about a terminally ill girl who prayed for friends, neighbors, and even missionaries in faraway lands. The preacher said the girl prayed for only three months before she died, but her prayers made a big different in many lives.

Nathan thought, “I also should pray. I can pray for my classmates, friends, and the teens in my neighborhood.”

Classes were resuming at the Seventh-day Adventist where Nathan studied, and many of his classmates belonged to non-Christian religions.

Nathan wondered who to pray for. He decided to pray for those who seemed to be the most open to Christianity. They seemed to be more fertile soil.

Nathan noticed that one boy, Arun, enjoyed singing at morning worship and listened attentively to worship talks. He began praying for Arun.

One day, he said to Arun, “I’m happy that you are interested in Christian things.”

Arun smiled broadly.

“I love singing these songs,” he said. “Long ago, I accepted Jesus as one of my gods.”

Nathan wanted to know more.

“Why did your parents choose this Christian school for you?” he asked.

“We live on a farm out in the country,” he said. “The only school bus that comes close to our house is the Adventist school bus.”

The conversation started a special friendship between Nathan and Arun. Whenever possible, Nathan told him about his love for Jesus. He prayed that those seeds would bear fruit.

Hopeless Case?

While Nathan spoke about Jesus with Arun, another boy named Jai was enthusiastically telling classmates about the power and goodness of the gods that he worshipped. Jai was zealous for his family’s faith, and he wore ritual markings on his forehead every day. Jai even spoke to Nathan about his gods. Nathan decided not to pray for Jai.

Then one day, Nathan played the keyboard at worship, and Jai was impressed with his skill. He praised Nathan and asked if he would play a song from his own religion on the keyboard.