A couple autumns ago a friend and I spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon at a pumpkin fest in a nearby town. We wandered across the courthouse lawn looking at the pumpkins entered for competition (all carved and decorated around the theme “Happiness is …”) We sipped warm apple cider, wandered down to the rides and back again. We were just about to go back to our car when we found ourselves surrounded by three teenagers.
“Hmmm,” one begin. I’m guessing he was about 15 or so and he looked like he wanted to say something to us, but couldn’t figure out quite what to say. Thoughts ran through my mind. What do these guys want? Are they lost and need directions? Do they need money? Are they getting ready to take our money? Are they the PR reps for a booth?
“Yes?” I questioned.
“Hmmm,” he said again. The nervousness continued. He looked at his friends and they looked back at him.
Finally his rehearsed speech came out in a rush. “I’m here with my youth group. The theme of the fest is Happiness is … How would YOU complete that sentence?’
Ah! Now I got what was going on.
I smiled. “Ok,” I said, “since you said you’re with your youth group, I’m guessing that the answer you’re looking for is: Happiness is the joy I find in my relationship with Christ.”
He looked surprised, but now feeling more comfortable, he continued, “So, if you hadn’t figure out what I was looking for, what would you have said?”
“The same,” I answered
We continued chatting. My friend asked all three of them how THEY would answer the question. And they all gave sentence testimonies about happiness being found in the death and resurrection of Christ.
We talked about their youth group and what church they represented. Then an older guy (youth sponsor) came over, obviously to check to make sure the boys weren’t hung up in some theological debate with two strangers
As we parted, the first teen said, “Do you have any prayer requests?”
I said, “I don’t have anything specific right this moment, but I promise I’ll pray for you. I know it’s hard approaching people you don’t know. I’ll pray that God will give you courage and wisdom.”
“Hey, thanks,” he said.
I walked away thinking.
First, that was one of the few times in my life someone had randomly witnessed to me.
Second, opportunities to encourage kids can come at unexpected times.
Even at pumpkin fests.