My search for the truth began in earnest when I became a father. My son’s birth made me wonder more than ever: Why are we here? What is the meaning of this life?
I’m from Russia and I was born Jewish. I thought Christ was not for me. But I started reading the Bible, and the story of Jesus touched me. A woman from a Russian-speaking church was sharing the Gospel in a park, and I happened to walk by. I had so many questions! She wasn’t used to someone coming up to her voluntarily. She usually was the one to come up to people, so when she saw my interest, she invested time in talking with me. She opened up her home to me and demonstrated what a truly passionate believer in Jesus looks like. And that changed my life.
Now, that I’ve been a Christian for several years, I’m one of the leaders of the Youth Discussions for teenagers at my church. Living in New York City is tough for teenagers; there are a lot of temptations. Some kids start doing drugs at that age and get hooked for life. Some kids drop out of school and get caught up with the wrong crowd. Parents don’t always have time to talk about the tough issues with their kids.
I think that developing a relationship with the Lord can keep teenagers on the straight path. We want them to feel the beauty of life with God, to think about how they can apply the Bible’s values to their everyday life. We want their understanding of Jesus to not just be intellectual, but practical and personal.
When we get with the kids, we have open discussions. We read the Bible and let them ask tough questions. We also plan activities, hiking trips and going to get sushi. Through fellowship, spending time together, having fun but engaging in serious conversations, we’re building relationships between the younger and older ones. We want them to develop into leaders for the future.