Although the girls don’t often get to ride together during the week, sleepover parties hosted by a Christian woman at the horse farm outside Milwaukee have created a platform for their friendship.
Dinner follows chores on sleepover nights, then their host leads them in devotions. Afterward there’s chips and soda and a game of Catch Phrase before bed.
Days earlier, Hannah Neumann, 13, had pondered talking to Abby Edwards about Jesus at this sleepover. Abby was the only girl in the group who did not yet know Christ personally.
The girls trudged downstairs to their sleeping quarters in the basement. As they were getting ready for bed, Hannah saw her opportunity. “Do you go to church?” she asked her friend. Abby replied that she did.
From there, discussion was fueled by questions from Abby about one of the Ten Commandments–what it means to have no other gods before the one true God. She wondered if she had been praying correctly, as her prayers were not directly to God. “That was one of her biggest questions that led into our discussion,” says Hannah. “We explained that the Commandment is true, that the one true God is the only One who should be prayed to.” As the conversation went on, Hannah felt led to ask, “Have you ever accepted Christ into your heart?”
No, Abby hadn’t.
Hannah shared the verses she had memorized through the Dare to Be a Daniel (D2BD) evangelism program, and the two other girls added to the conversation, helping Abby along. That night, Abby prayed to receive Jesus.
“One of the ways that I had found courage to talk to Abby was that when we do chores and ride, we bond with each other. … We all kind of grow together so it’s easier to talk to each other and be more open.”
Before Hannah heard about D2BD, she had not been overtly sharing her faith in Christ with others. “Dare to Be a Daniel helped me to become strong and brave, because I learned about what Daniel went through. It helped me to pretend almost as if I was Daniel,” Hannah says. The D2BD program, which she learned about through her grandfather, also helped her to become more serious about keeping a prayer journal.
Hannah had written Abby’s name in her journal, as well as the name of a girl on her soccer team, Nicky. Hannah and her mother had been praying about when to talk to her. An evening came when the three had planned to see a movie, and Mrs. Neumann took the girls to a nearby coffee shop beforehand. “We explained to Nicky what it meant to be a Christian,” says Hannah. “I shared all the Bible verses I learned through Dare to Be a Daniel and . . . Nicky accepted Jesus into her heart.” After that, Nicky’s brother and mother also started to come to the church’s Wednesday night youth group and Bible study.
Later in the year, Hannah invited two other friends to a Christian after-school program at a local middle school. Erin, a neighbor, heard about Jesus at a retreat through the program and committed her life to Him. Now Hannah is able to support Erin in her concern for her older sister’s apathy toward Christianity. “We just tell her not to get discouraged … and to keep praying,” Hannah says.
She laughs when she thinks about her friend Maria’s conversion.
When Hannah and her cousin went down the soccer-team roster to call teammates about participating in the Christian after-school program, neither wanted to call Maria, for fear of rejection. It just didn’t seem like she would have any interest in things of the Lord.
They flipped a coin to see who would call her, and in the end, Maria was one of only two soccer teammates who came to the group. “That was surprising,” says Hannah. “She was the only person we were afraid to invite–and she wanted to come.” Not only that, she gave her heart to the Lord.
Hannah says that completing the D2BD program made her more conscious about regularly telling people about Christ. “I wouldn’t have known what to say or how to explain things and wouldn’t have had the Bible verses and the steps to tell [my friends].”
As Hannah’s mom observes her daughter, she remembers her own younger years when programs like Evangelism Explosion helped her to adopt evangelism as a way of life. “It comes to the forefront of your mind to be out there telling people [about Christ]; when you’re thinking and praying and putting people’s names down in your journal, you’re seeing God work through that.”
Hannah is still a bit nervous about sharing her faith, but she says that one of her favorite verses, Joshua 1:9, helps her. “Be strong and courageous,” Hannah quotes. “Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NIV).