Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Story (Part 3) - Going Deeper

Read Part 2

When our new youth pastor, Joe Schillero began his ministry with us, we all began comparing him to Phil.  Was he as fun?  Would we still have a good time?  Joe was unlike Phil in so many ways.  But I did not yet realize the impact he would have on my life.

Joe Schillero
Joe's ministry was marked by taking us deeper into the Word of God.  Phil's ministry was highlighted by the kind of fun that we wanted our non-Christian friends to come to, knowing they would hear the Gospel before the event was over.  Joe's ministry was marked by deep discipleship.  He began meeting with a couple of us for a small group Bible study.  We would study together, laugh together, eat together, and pray together.

Joe also invited me to another Bible study he was a part of, where I was surrounded by people who were on fire for Jesus.  He would get together with some of them for prayer and bring me along.  I remember at least one time when we huddled in the back of a van in the Metroparks to spend time in prayer.  They were the kind of prayer meetings that felt like 15 minutes, but could go on for 1-2 hours.  It was during this time with Joe that I first learned about singers like Keith Green and preachers like Leonard Ravenhill and Ray Comfort.  Joe would often take me out to share the Gospel in bowling alleys and sometimes a random walker on the street corner.  Once he took us to the Flats in downtown Cleveland with his friend Marty Coyne for some street evangelism.

Marty Coyne
Marty Coyne.  This is someone I have to mention briefly at least.  He was the definition of radical.  He was on fire for Jesus and spending 5 minutes with him left you wanting to go home and pray.  He went to the same high school I was going to and my heart felt an instant connection with him.  I had left the days of good Christianity and was now tasting of what deep, on fire, sold out Christianity looked like.  It was during this time that I experienced the closest thing to a revival I have ever experienced.  It was amazing.  What was especially incredible is that this "revival" was starting, at least in part, among the members of the youth group who were becoming serious in their pursuit of Christ.  In fact, over 20 years later I can look back and see the overwhelming majority of them still faithfully walking with Jesus this day.  So, this wasn't just another superficial youth group experience.

During this time, more days were spent in Bible studies and prayer meetings than not.  Some from our youth group would go and find another church to attend on a Thursday night, since nothing was going on with our church that night.  We were hungry and couldn't get enough.

Leonard Ravenhill once said that you become like the environment into which you are born - if you were born into a revival, you will always expect that; if you were born into apathy, you will come to accept that.  Going through my sophomore year of high school (1989-1990), I had tasted a Christianity that burns with passion for the glory of God.  I have never been content with anything less.  My heart aches to see Him at work again as He was back then.  But would I ever taste of it again?

Part 4

No comments:

Post a Comment