Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Adolescence/Teen Years (07/16/09)
TITLE: The Influence of a Godly Man
By Mary McLeary
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If anyone knows teens, Robert Allen does and could tell some exciting tales of God’s power in their lives. God placed him as the youth minister in a small town in west Tennessee. One night, shortly after we had moved there Robert and one of the deacons visited us and invited Carrie, our 14 year old, to a youth activity at church. At that activity the kids were signing up for the summer mission trip. She decided to go. She also was invited by the music director to try out for the play the kids performed at each stop on their trip. She made life-long friends and when her sister Stephanie was old enough, she went on youth mission trips and also performed in their musicals. The commitment of our daughters to their faith was sealed during this time in their lives. There is no way of knowing how many people were blessed by the messages presented by these teens or by Robert’s godly influence on them.
Robert’s influence might have gone unheeded if he had not been so down to earth and funny. Before every trip the teens were given “Robert’s Rules of Order” which was a list intended to make the trip go smoothly. The last rule on the list was, “Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables so you won’t get cranky.” Robert didn’t hesitate to elaborate if needed.
There was always a special place in his heart for the underdog. Stanley was definitely an underdog and Robert took him under his wing. Small and slow of speech, Stanley lived with a foster family who brought him to church. Stanley asked Jesus into his heart after a Sunday night worship service and Robert saw to it that Stanley went on the next mission trip. Carrie had graduated, but Stephanie was going for the second time and I was going as a counselor. As with every mission trip, there was lots of work and excitement, and as always God brought every thing together.
The group always left on their trips early on a Saturday and returned late the following Saturday night. They made two or three stops along the way to perform the musical and visit with other youth groups. They then proceeded to where ever they planned to conduct some backyard Bible schools. Counselors and teens had been trained before hand and were prepared to teach God’s word. Before bedtime each night of the trip, every one would congregate and Robert would give a devotional and ask the kids to share something that had happened that day. It was a blessing to hear what they had to say.
One night Robert had given a devotional on prayer and several of the teens had shared about their day. Stanley raised his hand and in his distinct drawl said, “You know everybody’s been talking about praying, and I know I prayed to ask Jesus into my heart. I need to pray for my mama to ask Jesus into her heart. If she loved Jesus then she’d love me too.” Instantly there were tears in every eye as we all bowed to pray for Stanley’s mother. Several of the counselors witnessed to answered prayers in their lives, and then Robert asked if anyone wanted to pray the prayer of salvation. Three teens raised their hands. Robert led them as the rest of us bowed our heads in prayer and praise. It was a precious time.
Later in the week during another nightly devotional, one of the boys made a comment I have never forgotten. He said, “You know prayer really is the key, and I’ve just been picking the lock.”
Over the years I’ve kept up with many of the teens that participated in Robert’s youth groups. I am struck by the deep commitment so many of them have to the Lord. They are making a difference in their families, their communities and our world. As adolescents and teens they were trained in the church and led by a true man called by God. Our girls were so blessed along with hundreds of others.
Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Therefore be followers of God as dear children. And walk in love as Christ also had loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Robert has helped make an odorous world smell sweeter by bringing teens to a strong relationship with Christ and I will be eternally grateful.
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