My First Church…(Part 2)

I’ve been feeling rather nostalgic lately as I’ve found a number of facebook friends from my first church, Pine Mountain Christian Community Church.  So, I thought that it might be fun to reminisce a little bit about how God brought me to PMC Church and some of the lessons I learned there.  This is the second in a series of posts on “My First Church“.

2509 Tirol Drive Snow C Having grown up in Bakersfield (God’s country), there were a lot of things about life in PMC that I wasn’t exactly prepared for.  In Bakersfield, when it gets cold you simply turn on the heater.  But, because propane is so expensive and there is no natural gas in PMC, I learned a lot about building a fire.  By the end of my four years at PMC, I was a master at building a great fire in our wood burning stove.

One of the hardest things about living in a mountain community like PMC, is the amount of driving that you have to do.  Amy and I would routinely drive 30 minutes to the nearest McDonald’s, just to get an ice cream cone (this was before we had kids).  To get groceries we would drive to Bakersfield (1 hour away) with a couple of ice chests to bring home food for the next two weeks.

Over the course of the 4 years that I was at PMC I spent time with a lot of different young people, each of which is still very dear to me.  However, one young man made a lasting impression on me that I will never forget, his name was Mike.

I met Mike and his brother one day at the church.  Mike walked up with his usual air of confidence and told me that he needed to do community service in order to stay out of jail and he was hoping that I could find some things for him to do.  I told him that I’d be sure to find some things for him to do, as long as he stuck close to me and didn’t mind if I told him about Jesus. 

Mike came from a pretty abusive home life.  I remember one time that he came to the church with a baseball bat in his hand.  When I asked him what that was for, he said it was in case his Dad decided to beat on him again.  Because his home life was so rough, Mike and I spent a lot of time together in those months.  He would oil the pews in the church, help out with our Jr. High kids and even went on one of our summer retreats with us, all the while I was praying for Mike and kept on telling him about Jesus.  After months of explaining the gospel to Mike, one night I just told him, “Mike, if you don’t believe the gospel, you’re going to go hell.”  To which he replied, “I know and I’m ok with that.”

One evening in February we had a group of 30 students at the church for the 30 Hour Famine, which is a fund-raiser for World Vision, when I got a call telling me that Mike had been killed in an afterschool fight.  It turned out that he had been punched in the throat, making it impossible for him to breathe.  I still wonder what thoughts raced through his mind as he suffocated to death on that mountain.  What did he think about as he the world began to fade?  Did anything that I said come to mind?  Did he cry out to Jesus in the last moments of his life?  Unfortunately, there are no answers to those kinds of questions.

In my 8 years of youth ministry, nothing has impressed upon me the urgency of the gospel message more than this young man’s death.  Young people have a way of believing that death will never come, but Mike is a reminder to me that life is short and each breath that we take is a gift from God.  The real question is how are we going to spend the few years that He has given us on this earth?

Psalm 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days that we might get a heart of wisdom.”  Mike’s death serves as a constant reminder to me to number my days and to use them for the glory of God.

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August 10 2009 04:00 am | My First Church

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