11/1/09 William, about 60 Natasha, about 19
Both have a church background but they also have some differences: one old, one young; one black, one white; they live about a block but a world apart - the IIT campus and Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood. Our conversations happened one right after another. William told me he believes in "the 60-40 rule" where if he is good 60% of the time, it will make up for the 40% of the time he is bad. "Where is that found in the Bible?" I asked and William had to admit he made it up. I asked questions which personalized the Ten Commandments and helped him realize that he can't earn his way to heaven. What amazed me was that after a lifetime of church attendance he didn't know of any other way. He doesn't read his Bible, and his practice of religion has degenerated into doing just enough to make him feel confident of salvation. I explained how the punishment he deserves has been paid on the cross, but I got the impression that he has become calloused to it - the result of belief without repentance. Natasha, on the other hand, whom I talked to while she was smoking outside her dorm, realized that she "had lost faith in Jesus" and has turned to Sikhism, a form of Hinduism. She grew up in a Pentecostal church, attending 3 times a week for much of her life, but ultimately rejected Christianity for a religion that doesn't believe in sin or its consequences, judgment or heaven and hell. At least Natasha knows where she stands - she openly admits she rejects Jesus - but William doesn't realize his faith is not in Christ but in his own goodness. They have some differences, but they both need our prayers.