Marcus was a little nervous–not because it was the first day of school, but because of the question put to him by his friend, who was sitting on the bench in front of him.
“What are those things around your neck?”
The dog tags around Marcus’ neck were three silver rectangle plates at the end of a chain that told the story of God’s love and the death of His Son on the cross. Marcus had been wearing the necklace ever since he received it from BGEA’s Dare to Be a Daniel program this past summer.
“How do you know about Jesus?” his friend asked.
Marcus had prayed that morning that God would send him someone to share his faith with during the new school year, but he didn’t know it would happen the first day, before he even made it to class.
He explained that he had invited Christ into his heart two years earlier when he was 11 and that he had come to know Him even better during a Dare to Be a Daniel camp about a month before school began.
“There is a heaven and a hell,” Marcus said, aware that entire classes had gathered on the basketball court to wait for the morning bell. “You wouldn’t want to go to hell because it’s not a very good place. Heaven is a better home than here on earth. You won’t have to worry about any problems or anything that you’re dealing with now.”
Marcus had his friend’s attention.
“How do I get to know Christ?” he asked.
Forgetting the other students, Marcus took off the necklace and handed it to his friend. “God loves you,” his friend read. “Sin separates you from God.”
On the third tag was a prayer to receive Christ, which Marcus offered to pray with him–right then and there–before the bell sounded for both of them to report to their classes. His friend did not hesitate to pray and, instantly, he had a new Friend. One who would walk with him to his first day of class, through the rest of middle school and high school and through whatever else lay ahead of him in life.
“He accepted Christ,” Marcus said. “I told him that he would want to start reading the Bible and going to church.”
Ever since Camp Daniel, Marcus had wanted to share his faith. He had always loved church and was one of the first to offer to help in Sunday school if the teacher asked. At school, he would lend his coat when someone was cold or give money to someone who couldn’t buy a snack on a field trip. But, like many middle schoolers, he shied away from sharing his faith with his friends. Then he heard about Dare to Be a Daniel, an evangelism training program designed to teach children ages 9 to 14 how to share their faith in Christ. His mom ordered a program kit for him and he went through the 14-page booklet, memorized the required Bible verses, then received a password to log on to DareToBeADaniel.com.
His mother, Jeanette, noticed a difference in him immediately after he joined Dare to Be a Daniel. Suddenly her son’s faith was about more than going to church and singing in the choir. It was alive and vibrant and something that he wanted to share.
“With this new school year coming up, and all the gang activity, I was worrying about how he was going to handle that,” Jeanette said. “But he told me, ‘I’m not worrying about that, Mom. I’m going to be telling as many people as I can about Jesus.’”
More than 155,000 kits have been mailed out across the United States, and more than 70 young people attended BGEA’s first youth evangelism camp, Camp Daniel, in July.
Dare to Be a Daniel teaches kids the four godly principles that the Old Testament prophet Daniel lived by: to purpose in their heart to obey God; to pray and study the Bible regularly; to pick godly friends; and to live a life that points others to God. When the first day of school came, Marcus awoke ready to do just that.
“I wanted to let everybody know I’m not afraid to show what I’m about and whom I serve as a Christian,” he said.
For of Such Is the Kingdom
Jesus took time to minister to young people, and BGEA is following this example.
Children’s programs have long been a part of the Billy Graham ministry, at both international and domestic Crusades. The children’s programs, held typically on Saturday mornings, have been particularly popular at international Crusades. In the last five years, more than 375,000 children have heard the message of Christ proclaimed at Franklin Graham’s international Festivals in seven Latin American countries, Australia, the Philippines and Angola.
Rock the City Concerts
Rock the City is a pre-Festival youth event featuring contemporary Christian music and a challenging message. The concerts encourage youth in the United States and Canada to begin inviting their friends to a BGEA Crusade.
On Aug. 7, more than 5,700 young people converged at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to hear the contemporary Christian band Third Day and youth evangelist Ron Hutchcraft in preparation for the Central Canada Franklin Graham Festival, Oct. 20-22.
More than 270 people came forward to inquire about a relationship with Jesus Christ.
“I was overwhelmed by the number of people who came to the concert and the number of people who came forward,” said Bruce Adams, who helped distribute materials to counselors during the invitation.
“There were so many people coming forward that they asked those of us who were distributing materials to put the materials aside and help counsel,” said Adams, pastor of Kilcona Park Alliance Church in Manitoba. “At one point I was counseling 15 kids in a circle and it became very intense and challenging.”
The experience helped Adams and others to see how desperately counselors are needed for the October Festival. “It was very moving. It took a while for me to get to sleep that night.”
Adams walked away with a challenge for the people in his church.
“I have a goal to get 50 percent of my people to attend the Christian Life and Witness Course,” he said. “We’re encouraging our life and small group leaders not to have their group meetings anymore until after the Festival, but to go as a group to the Christian Life and Witness training.”
For more information about BGEA’s Dare to Be a Daniel program or to become a member of the Dare to Be a Daniel team, go to DareToBeADaniel.com.
Passageway.org is a Web site that encourages teens to share their faith, provides inspiring testimonies from other young people and Christian artists, and gives help on such issues as relationships, families, entertainment and temptation.