Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Today I had a great day hanging-out at a remote Christian college, where they discipline young Christians in becoming effective for God.

They seem to see themselves as something of an army camp, as the students do all the physical fitness as well, and sometimes get sent off on manoeuvres.

For example, they drop groups of them off in the middle of another nowhere, with only a paperclip and their faith to sustain them. The idea is that they then swap the paperclip for something of greater value, then swap that etc. until they return with something big like a microwave, or a car, or Africa or something.

Chatting to some of them in the canteen inevitably led them to asking me what I was doing in New Zealand. So I told them that I had reckoned that God wanted me here, but didn't really know what exactly to do once here. I'm not really used to talking about myself, being more of a listener, so I had to break eye-contact to concentrate. When I looked back I realised that they had all lost interest and were now looking at someone behind me who had stolen their attention.

I thought that was rude, but normal for me. Somehow I have that effect on people, of suddenly becoming invisible mid-sentence as soon as anyone else comes into peripheral vision.

So I sighed inwardly, and turned to politely listen to the newcomer behind me who had so snappily seduced my audience.

And here's the thing – there was no-one there.

I swear I did a double-take. Who were they talking to? One guy was gazing in awestruck wonder, and enunciating "Whoa. Dude. What faith!"

At this point I realised with shock that they were actually still talking to me, but I was so un-used to the attention, that I had just assumed that they were looking with such interest at someone else.

I started to protest, "No, no, really, I haven't got much faith..." Didn't they realise that I hadn't even been properly attending a church in the UK for years? Then I genuinely let slip that I had never left home before, and, well, that was that.

So anyway, from that moment on, they were full of encouragement and determined to look after me, swapping phone numbers by the end of the day, and promising to meet up back in Auckland to hear my testimony. Quite an inspiring day, not least because I was kindly given two free meals, three free pieces of cake, three free sachets of Milo and a free lift home, saving me $17 on the coach. Oh, and they made me tea, too. I even got to run off some radio demo tapes for job applications while I was there.

I accept their faith in God, but am bewildered at their faith in me.


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