8/8/12 Jake, 21
A young man named Jake, 21, whom I met outside a Target store, was very willing to talk about his beliefs. He was confirmed in the Lutheran church and - though he knows he isn't perfect and "should probably attend church more" - believes he is a good person deserving to go to heaven, not realizing that Jesus died for sinners who don't deserve salvation. The major religious influence in his life has been his father, who "made a deal" with God in his 20's before a life-threatening surgery that removed his intestines. Jake's father is now 60 and has survived almost 40 years of waste-removal tubes and numerous infections related to this surgery and three bouts with different forms of cancer, and in the process Jake believes he has made good on his promise to God to help others with similar problems. He spoke with great admiration about his father and his close relationship with God, so I asked "You see how your father's struggles have brought him close to God, but what about you? What is your relationship with God like?" He answered, "Well I'm not close to God like my father is, but we have an understanding, you could say." He said he prays often, not just when he needs something but during good times too. He was very positive and open minded as I went on to share the gospel, but still needs to come to repentence and faith in Jesus. I think Jake clearly has been blessed by his father's example, and as Jesus said to another young man in Marl 12, I believe he is not far from the Kingdom of Heaven.