I am honored that today’s post was written by Ryan, a senior in high school here in Moraga, California who passionately seeks to know and reflect the realities of the Kingdom of God in all areas of his life. Over the last two years I have been inspired, humbled, and privileged to be able to have a front row seat in witnessing this young man follow Jesus in simple ways that have lead to great transformation. I pray you will be as encouraged by the faith and boldness of Ryan’s story.
When I came home from my church’s Spring Break mission trip to Mexico my freshman year, I was excited about God and I desperately wanted to let him be at work in my life. As a 15 year old I found myself stuck pondering a question many Christians old and young get hung up on all the time, “What does that look like?” I decided to play it relatively safe by reading my Bible more then sending a few of the encouraging verses I read to some of my closest friends. I had no idea what this would turn into.
The first time I saw God do something amazing through these text messages happened when my friends told their friends about the texts they were receiving from me. Soon I began sending out a nightly scripture and encouragement text message to about 20 people during finals at the end of my freshman year. I was sharing the hope and joy of Christ every single night hoping to build up these kids’ faith when a second amazing thing happened. Some how word spread and my list of people to send text messages to began to grow rapidly. I was adding my own friends, their friends, even adults. Kids in college who were receiving my text messages asked if their friends, people I’d never even met, could join. Today the “Gannett Text” list has grown to over 200 people.
It has been such a blessing to hear stories of how these simple reminders have helped impact people’s lives. I have been able to be a part of so many people’s faith journeys. After nearly 2 ½ years and somewhere near 125,000 text messages, the most amazing thing I have experienced is the way God has worked in me. I started sending these text messages with very little expectation but I have seen God shaped this ministry and changed my heart in the process. The ways he has pushed me beyond my comfort zone to help encourage others has been one of the biggest ways God has used this to shape me. By sending out hundreds of verses to high school students there are bound to be questions and discussions that arise. At first I was worried about this proposition but I have come to realize it is just another way to glorify Him. Through these conversations God has have forged in me a deeper dependence on him that I couldn’t have done on my own. I have to lean on him and know that he will give me the words when these tough situations arise.
Another thing these texts have taught me is discipline in my faith. There are lots of nights when I’ve had a long day and would rather just get some sleep. In those times, remembering the people waiting for the nightly verse reminds me what is most important. Sending out encouragements has allowed God to be a present force in my life each and every night. Similarly, another way God has been at work in me is by allowing me to see how living for him is so much more than sending a text message, attending weekly youth group, or worship on Sundays. Pretty early on in the process my dad told me that if I was going to send out these verses people were going to see me in that light and that my actions throughout the day needed to be in line with the twenty minutes I spent at night sharing His word. What I have found as I have grown older is the great joy that comes from living in this way. The more God was in control of my life the more at peace I have felt.
God answered the prayers of an energetic fifteen year old in ways I could have never imagined. I have seen God at work through me so often along this road. In this journey I see how my decision to live into Christ’s call for our lives as Christians has allowed my own faith to grow and flourish far more than I could have ever dreamed. I am daily learning and experiencing that the more we are simply present with people and allow God to direct our actions he will draw us ever closer to him.