They held doors open. They carried trays for people in the food court. They helped a woman stock shelves at a bookstore. They even found an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and reunited her with the friends from whom she had somehow been separated.
Whenever someone asked why they were spending the day helping people they didn’t know, the boys answered that they wanted to serve people. If the opportunity arose, they asked people if they knew Jesus.
Some people replied that they did know Jesus. Some immediately got angry. Yet others were curious. The group had DVDs of the “JESUS” film in their backpacks, and they offered them to anyone who was interested.
Afterward, the youngsters said that although they had never done anything like that before, they felt confident–even when people aggressively rejected their attempts to talk about Jesus.
Cameron, age 9, said, “Now, I feel like I can just walk up to anyone and start talking about my faith and tell them that they need to have Christ in their life.” The other boys agreed. They said that their confidence came from being a part of the five-session Dare to Be a Daniel Experience.
Before the field trip to the mall, Cameron’s dad, Scott Baller, led the boys through the training, which is part of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Dare to Be a Daniel evangelism training program. Dare to Be a Daniel teaches young people how to live boldly for Christ and share their faith with their friends, just like the Prophet Daniel.
The boys, all classmates at McKinney Christian Academy, are just reaching the age when kids start to feel pressure to be cool, said Scott, whose wife, Carrie, discovered the Dare to Be a Daniel curriculum at a church conference. The couple thought it would be a great way to help Cameron and his friends find courage to stand up for their faith in Christ.
“They’re at the bottom of the spectrum as far as the age that the lessons are for,” Scott said, “but I think that’s the time you need to do it. Don’t wait until they get to high school. There are adults out there that aren’t that confident [about personal evangelism] or don’t even realize what’s in the Bible about the Great Commission.”
Starting last November, Scott and Carrie invited nine of Cameron’s classmates into their home for seven Friday afternoons. The boys had fun watching the Dare to Be a Daniel videos and role-playing the ways they could point people to Christ in conversations. When the sessions were finished, the boys got the idea to go to the mall.
“We did a lot of role-playing during the lessons,” Scott said. “They had a lot of fun and learned a lot, but it was their idea to go do it. I think we really picked up on the idea of having a servant’s heart like Christ and using that as a way to talk to people about their faith.”
It wasn’t long before they put the training into use in their everyday lives, talking to friends on their community sports teams about their faith. Cameron and the point guard on his basketball team would often begin talking about basketball but end up talking about God. After a few weeks, the point guard was not only interested in what Cameron had to say, but he agreed to go to church with him.
Nick, also 9, has been doing the same thing on his baseball team, and one of his teammates has started asking him questions about Jesus.
“Before we started Dare to Be a Daniel, I felt afraid to share my faith,” Nick said. “But after the class, I just felt confident about it. I could tell anybody about Christ. I think it’s easy to do now.”
Nine-year-old Stephen had a friend from his football team sleep over one night. The boys were talking about a fantasy book series that features Greek mythology. Stephen’s friend talked about the Greek gods as if they were real.
Troubled, Stephen went downstairs to ask his dad which Scriptures talk about the fact that there is only one God. Stephen took his Bible back upstairs and showed his friend the verses, explaining that the Greek gods are not real. The friend said that he hadn’t heard that Jesus was the only true God but he wanted to follow Him, too.
Carrie, Cameron’s mom, said the curriculum really got the boys’ attention without being too “churchy.”
“I wish I’d had something like this at his age,” she said. “This has been awesome. This whole Dare to Be a Daniel curriculum is very applicable and cool for boys.” The Ballers not only plan to do Dare to Be a Daniel with their three younger sons, but are planning to use the training with some of Cameron’s other classmates.
The Dare to Be a Daniel Experience can help anyone who wants to reach young people with the Gospel, without requiring a large budget or big event. With five lessons, the Experience is versatile enough to be used for Sunday school, vacation Bible school or weekend retreats.
The kit includes a leader’s guide with five lessons, a DVD with video for each lesson, five student field manuals, 10 “Steps to Peace With God” folding tracts, one student completion kit with a set of Scripture dog tags and a teacher’s resource Web site.