We stood on the bank of the river on the cold crisp October morning. A young man and one of my closest friends and fellow youth workers stood beside me. We called the attention of the crowd of youth around and we listened as this young man shared the story of his life over the past year.
See it was on a cold night last October when he was at his lowest. To him life was darker than the night time sky around us. No hope in life. There were no smiles. The words were filled with the hurt that was contained within him.
This October I look at him as he is sharing. His words are filled with hope. He is telling jokes. He is beaming. His smile threatens to split his face.
What changed? I can safely tell you that it wasn't me that changed him. I was there beside him in both Octobers - but I was not the thing that changed him. I carry no capacity to change anyone. What happened to him was a baptism of fire. Life threatened to end him and he would have given in had it not been for someone willing to sacrifice himself for this young man. His name is Jesus.
You may not believe in God or that Jesus died on the cross and died in our place. But for this young man it become more than just a story - it became reality. That fueled change of heart. I loved the words he said right before we waded into the water.
"I'm a Christian - Deal with it!"
We then baptized him as a symbol of the reality that had already changed his life.
I was honored to be along for the ride.