Remember the moment you committed your life to Christ? We’re excited to share this exclusive short story by Jerry Jenkins about a teenager and his moment of commitment to sharing the gospel. Read until the end – you’ll be pleasantly surprised! Jerry Jenkins is author of the Left Behind: Kids Collection Series.
When a young teen nicknamed Moose showed up at Camp Hickory in Round Lake, Illinois, one summer as a junior counselor to 9- and 10-year-olds, he was ready for some fun.
Moose came from a devout Christian home. He had become a believer as a child and enjoyed everything about Sunday school and church, but he was laid back about his faith. Moose didn’t want to push his beliefs on anyone.
The highlight of the week arrived. A local church softball team came to play the staff. They were led by a superstar named Johnny Ankerberg, a collegian who was also a preacher. He was a friend of Moose’s.
Ankerberg asked what he should speak on that night in the service.
“Well,” Moose said, “there are a lot of phonies here. Maybe something on really being what you say you are all the time.”
That night Moose sat waiting to counsel any who wanted to receive Christ or rededicate their lives.
Ankerberg jumped right into his topic, challenging the crowd: “Are you really a Christian, or are you just playing at it? Do you paste a smile on your face and sit still in church but sneak around doing bad things with your friends at school and on the weekends?”
Not me, Moose thought. No smoking or drinking or vandalism. I don’t even swear.
But then Ankerberg shifted gears. “Maybe you’re not doing anything wrong. Maybe you think you’re okay with the Lord.”
Suddenly, it seemed as if there were no others in the room but Moose and John. As the big kid sat staring at the preacher, John began to hit home. “Do your friends even know you’re a believer? Or are you a secret-service Christian, saving your faith for Sundays and home? Have you ever even told them about Jesus?”
Moose’s pulse raced. Was he one of the phonies he himself had referred to? John began a list of the dangers of keeping quiet about your faith; how the world and friends and influences could rob you of your love of Christ. How people you care about could be lost because you were afraid of offending them.
“Who will stem the tide of invisible Christians?” John thundered, and suddenly Moose knew personally what the old term meant, falling under conviction. He shuddered, his heart galloping. “After what Jesus did for you on the cross, can you not suffer a little embarrassment for Him? I’m looking for young people who will say, ‘I will stand for Christ by God’s grace, even if I have to stand alone!’ ”
How Moose wanted to take that stand! If God would give him the courage and the power, he could do it!
John finally asked for people to stand if they were ready to make that commitment, and Moose leapt to his feet. He was near tears, ready to burst. He ran from the screened-in assembly hall, out into the darkness past the fellowship hall, and into the parking lot, where he found a friend’s car. He lay across the front seat, crying out to God for forgiveness.
“I will share my faith! I will tell others about You! I don’t care what they think about me or even if they ever agree. I want to be the kind of believer You want me to be.”
When Moose finally left that car, he sensed God’s forgiveness and even felt his first burst of courage. This would not be one of those annual rededications that didn’t take. Moose felt like a new person.
When he went back to school that Fall, he shared his faith with his friends. He became a writer and became passionate about spreading the news about Jesus that way too.
Several years later, when Moose was newly married, he became editor of a high school Sunday school paper. From there, he went on to become editor of two Christian magazines and then became a book publisher.
In the meantime, on the side, he wrote more than 180 books, including many about professional athletes.
It’s been said that big doors turn on small hinges. Moose traces his life’s work and ministry back to that summer at Camp Hickory where God spoke to him.
Statistics show that more than a quarter-million kids become believers at camps and conferences each year. And more than 500,000 Christian leaders trace their choice of profession to decisions made at camp.
But Moose is more than a statistic. I ought to know.
Moose was my nickname.