10/24/09 Mark, about 17
While walking the dog I noticed a group of about a dozen teens having a drinking party down at the end of a dead-end street so I went over to try to strike up a conversation. "How are you doing, you all having a good time?" I half expected them to run away, but one kid named Mark introduced himself respectfully. Most kept up their conversations until I told the group "I have a question for you all." That got their attention. "What do you think happens after this life, what's on the other side?" Silence. "I think we'll go to Heaven", Mark said. "I was just at a Kyrios retreat, and that's what we talked about." I noticed he was the only one there who wasn't drinking, and that there seemed to be an unspoken agreement that Mark was the perfect member of the group to talk to the religious guy while everyone else went back to their conversations and drinking. "How do you know you will go to heaven?" I asked. "Well, I know I've made mistakes, but I forgive myself" was his answer. This I had not heard before, and I asked him about it, pointing out that its God's forgiveness that we need. We talked for quite a while, and many of the religious beliefs and practices he talked about were very off the wall and unbiblical, on the level of superstition. Mark was on a spiritual high after his five day retreat, but I just had to ask where the authority for his beliefs came from. He didn't really know, and I told him that they need to come from the Bible. From the lack of negative comments or ridicule from his friends and their concern for Mark when they were leaving I could tell that he has their respect and is a natural leader, but I just pray he won't be like the "blind guides" of Matthew 15:14, leading his friends into a pit. I hope we can continue the conversation another day.