9/16/10 Omar, 14
After work I stopped at the park and flagged down a teenager on his bicycle (Omar) teling him I had an interesting question for him. "What do you think happens after this life?" He shrugged, seeming not to care. He had that fatalistic "running the streets" look which made me curious, so I asked "How long do you think you will live?" He guessed he wouldn't live to be older than 21 and I could tell he wasn't kidding. Omar was one of the small percentage of people who told me that he believes he will go to hell when he dies, and one of an even smaller percentage whom I believe meant it. I wanted to talk him out of it, tell he's not that bad, give him happy news that he surely doesn't deserve such a severe punishment, but if what Jesus said is true, that we are all "condemned already" (John 3:18), then I would be lying and giving him false hope. Instead I took a different approach, telling him that even the most religious people he knows, including a church guy like me, don't deserve heaven but deserve the punishment of hell for breaking God's law. The truth is that compared to other people, Omar might not be so bad but compared to God's standards, such as the Ten Commandments, he is just as guilty as the rest of us. Though I could tell this was a lot for him to take in, I talked briefly about the forgiveness that comes through faith in Jesus. I felt he needs to come to grips with his sin and accountability before God, but I wanted him to see that there is hope too.