Chris’ Story

Posted on by Mike Green

Chris is an 8th grader at Westlawn Middle School.  I had regularly seen Chris on campus but never had the opportunity to speak with him.  I got that opportunity during one of my weekly lunchroom visits.  Chris was isolated from other students and instructed to sit right next to the administrators.  I was invited by the principal to sit down and talk to him.  “Mr. Gibson, I’d like to introduce you to my friend Chris. You mind sitting and talking to him a bit?”  “I’d love to” I replied.  “Hi, my name is Romel.  How are you?”  I asked.  Chris stared at me as if I hadn’t said a word.  After a brief moment of awkward silence, I asked another question.  “Has anybody ever told you that you look just like a student who used to go here?  His name was Damarcus.”  Before he could answer me, the principal chimed in.  “They look and act just alike, Mr. Gibson.”

Her statement gave me much-needed insight.   If he’s just like Damarcus, he’s a troublemaker, hangs with the bad crowd, and the principal’s office is his second home.  In essence, he’s the kind of kid we want in Campus Life.  Because of that, I decided to see if he was even familiar with our program.  He said, “I know who you are.  I know Campus Life is in the library on Thursday mornings and you’d never catch me going to anything like that.”  Nevertheless, after that day, I’d attempt to talk to him every time I saw him.  I continued to invite him to Campus Life because I knew we had much to offer him.  He never showed!

Then, this past Thursday morning, Chris came walking into the library.  I was shocked and couldn’t help but wonder what I did to finally get to him.  I quickly found out that he was not there for me.  He was there because of a connection with one of our leaders, Garrett.  Garrett is a sophomore at the University of Alabama.  In many ways, he’s just a regular guy.  He’s from the Huntsville area and is majoring in education.  What makes him different is that every week he volunteers his time with Campus Life.  Yes, he’s there each week at our Campus Life gathering, but he also does more.  He goes to the lunchroom.  He offers students help with their math work.  Every so often, he plays basketball with students.  One day, those students happened to be Chris and his friends.  Garrett and a basketball game got Chris to go against his word and come to Campus Life. 

I learned an important lesson.  Having a team of leaders who are pursuing authentic Christ-sharing relationships with students is vitally important.  A team can accomplish far more than any one leader.  I didn’t really connect with Chris, but Campus Life did through one of its volunteer leaders.  It takes an army of leaders to fulfill our mission. 

Because of Garrett’s influence, Chris will now learn just how much God loves him and desires a relationship with him. He will not only hear the words but will see that love demonstrated through Garrett’s investment of time. Please pray for Chris and Garrett as God uses their relationship to impact both their lives. I look forward to giving you updates in the coming months.

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