by Brandi Reaves
Last fall, my family went on a homeschool families’ trip to the U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. Well, actually, it wasn’t my whole family. My husband and I took our two boys, ages ten and eight, but left our six and two year old daughters with their grandparents.
At Space Camp, attendees are assigned to a specific team with a Space Camp Crew Trainer as their leader. Our Crew Trainer was a young man with a bright smile. (For the purpose of this post, we will refer to our Crew Trainer as Will.) That week, our team was made up of four sweet Bible-believing families—two from Memphis, one from Maryland, and one from Indiana. All of the families seemed to bond almost instantly. Connecting with Will, on the other hand, was not so easy.
Every day we each tried to engage with Will on different topics, hoping to segue into a spiritual conversation, but each one of our attempts met with short responses. His verbal as well as nonverbal communication made it clear that he had no interest at all in continuing the dialogue. As the week progressed, my older son became increasingly burdened. He repeatedly told my husband and me that we had to tell Will about Jesus. As a family, we prayed for an opportunity to engage him, and then we shared this burden with the other families on our team. Each of them attempted to interact with Will, but the conversations just didn’t seem to go anywhere.
Part of our assignment that week included creating a “Mission Patch” for our team that expressed who we were as a team. We were all Christians, and we were called “Team Dragon,” so we came up with a design of a cross with a dragon wrapped around it blowing out fire that launched a rocket into space. At the bottom we put “Deus Universi” (God of the Universe). When it was our turn to present our patch, we explained that our “Team Dragon” was centered on Christ, the God who created the Universe. Will listened to our presentation, but made no response.
As the last day for the camp dawned, my son insisted that somebody tell Will about Jesus. Some people on our team thought that our mission patch presentation was enough to “plant the seed,” but that did not satisfy my son. I thought, “He’s right. A mission patch is not the gospel.” Finally, at literally the last moment as Will was saying goodbye to our group, I approached him. “Will,” I said, “As you’ve probably realized by spending the week with us, our whole lives revolve around God and His Word. My sons won’t let me leave here today without asking you, ‘Do you believe in God?’” He replied, “I don’t personally, but I don’t have a problem with people who do. I think religion does a lot of good things to help people.”
Quickly, my mind ran over how I could concisely but effectively share the Gospel with him. I decided on the Creation-Fall-Redemption paradigm. “Will, we really believe that God created all of this. The heavens that you explore with these space shuttles, everything, and that He created it good. But the reason that there are bad things in the world—evil, suffering, corruption, and disease is because of sin.” Just then, another Crew Trainer walked up and interrupted us. Then Will said goodbye and was gone. I was stunned. I hadn’t shared the Redemption part! We later decided to write him a letter with a fuller explanation of the Gospel. We mailed it to him at the Space Camp and gave him all of our contact information including an invitation to come to our home. We continue to pray for Will, for someone to water the Gospel seed that was planted in his heart and for him to receive Christ as his Lord and Savior.
When we returned home from Space Camp and picked up my daughters, the first thing my six-year-old daughter said to me was, “Mom, did you have a good time at Space Camp?” I replied, “Yes, it was a great time.” She then asked, “Did you tell anybody about Jesus?” My heart bursting I responded, “Yes, actually I did.” With an approving smile she said, “Good, then you were a missionary!”
For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles, That You may [a]bring salvation to the end of the earth.’ Acts 13:47