In my limited experience, junior high girls can be quite apathetic when it comes to the Gospel. They are, however, also receptive, and usually willing to talk. I am especially thankful that we have the law of God to use when witnessing to someone who is like this, because the law is our schoolmaster - it teaches us, reveals to us our sin, and brings us to Christ. Romans 7:7b says, "I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet."
"Hi, did you get one of these yet?" I sat down in front of a couple of girls sitting by a tree and handed them a couple of tracts. "I'm kind of working on a project. Could you help me out? I'm trying to find out what people think happens after we die... what do you believe?" "I don't know," one of the girls shrugged and smiled. "Do you believe in a heaven or a hell?" Simpering, she replied, "Uh... I don't really know..." "Okay, well do you believe in the Bible?" "Well, the Bible says there is a Heaven, and there is a Hell. Since you believe the Bible is true, and the Bible says there are both of these places, how do you think one goes to Heaven vs. Hell?"
"I'm not sure."
I was beginning to wonder if this conversation was going to go anywhere, when her friend peaked around from the other side of the tree and looked at me with interest. I was encouraged to continue, so I asked, "Do you think if you're a good person you'll go to Heaven?" "Do you?" I asked her friend. She nodded. "Would you like to take a test to find out if you're a good person?" "Okay, what we're going to go through comes straight from the Bible - the 10 commandments, actually. Are you familiar with those?" "Okay, well one of them says, 'Thou shalt not lie'. Have you ever lied?" They both emphatically said yes, laughing lightly. "What does that make you?" "Another one says, 'Thou shalt not steal.'" "Have you ever stolen anything - irrespective of its value?" "What does that make you?"
"A thief." It seemed like they were taking things a little more seriously now.
"Another command says, 'Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.' Have you done that?" "That's very serious, it's called blasphemy." I tried to communicate the truth of sin's offense, but with love. "Another command says, 'Thou shalt not commit adultery'. Jesus said that if we even look at a man or woman with lust, that is the same as commiting adultery. Have you ever done that?"
They both indicated they had.
"So," I said slowly, "by your own admission, you are a liar, a thief, a blasphemer, and an adulterer at heart. If you were to stand before a righteous and holy God on judgement day, would you be found innocent or guilty?" "Guilty," she replied. "Guilty," her friend echoed.
"It concerns me, too... Hell is described as a place where there is wailing, and gnashing of teeth; it is a lake of fire. We may live here on earth for, what - 70 years? My sister was hit by a semi-truck when she as just a little younger than I... had she or the truck been going just a mile per hour faster or slower, she almost assuredly would have died. We don't know how long we have, so making sure of our salvation is of utmost priority. Eternity is a very, very, very long time and I don't want you to spend it there!"
"But God is forgiving..." she added, hesitantly. "Imagine you are in a court room," I replied, "and you said, 'Judge, I know... I've robbed a bank and murdered a few people, but you are a nice, kind judge and I know you'll just forgive me and let me go free!' What kind of judge would that man be, to leave your sin unpunished?" They laughed, and agreed that would be a pretty poor judge. "You see," I continued, "A lot of people believe that because God is good, He will simply let them go, unpunished - overlooking their sin. But, in reality, the very fact that God IS good, means that He MUST punish that which is bad. God is just, right? Justice demands that crimes be paid for. And Romans 6:23 says, 'The wages of sin is death.'"
The friend of the girl I initially began talking with was listening very intently as I asked, "Do you know what God did so you wouldn't have to go to Hell for eternity?"
They both shook their heads.
"God is wholly just, yet He is also wholly loving. Because of His love, He created man, even with the knowledge that our sin would cost Him His very Son's life. 2,000 years ago, God became a man, the man Christ Jesus. Jesus lived a perfect life - something none of us has done or could do - and then died on the cross, taking the punishment of our sins - death - upon Himself. This was so much more than the physical pain." I emphasized, "Definitely the pain was excruciating. He had nails thrust through His hands and His feet, a crown of thorns piercing His head, was spat upon, mocked, ridiculed, shamed and marred more than any man. But what I believe to be the true weight upon Jesus, was that the full wrath of God for all the sins of the world for all time was poured upon Him. Jesus endured more than the physical torture, He experienced spiritual separation from God, something I don't think you or I could ever comprehend."
It's been said, "If they can't see tears in your eyes, let them hear the tears in your voice." I attempted to communicate with this in mind.
"So the price has been paid. Jesus lived, died, and rose again to save us. But now, a transaction must be completed. Imagine you are back in the court room, and just before the judge slams the hammer down, sentencing you to life imprisonment, a man rushes in and exclaims, 'Wait! I want to take her place. Please, let her go free; count me as guilty instead.' You would have a choice. You could say, 'No, I want to take the punishment for my own crime,' or you could accept the offer, and go free, placing the punishment of your sin upon the substitute."
I continued, "To receive God's provision of deliverance, we must understand that no matter what we do, we could not possibly merit Eternal Life on our own. We are all sinners, and our sin must be punished. Our sin must be placed upon Jesus, so that God's wrath may be satisfied. Jesus said in Luke 13:3, 'I tell you, ...except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.' Repentance is not sorrow. Sorrow is when we feel bad about what we have done. Repentance is action. If you truly believe in God, that He loved you enough to give His life for you, and that you will one day stand before Him to give account for your actions, you will desire to please Him - hating the things that He hates, loving the things that He loves. Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new."
"Does this make sense?" I asked. They said it did, and seemed to genuinely appreciate me talking with them.
"I'm not out here talking to you just because I think it's fun or something," I added, " I'm talking to you because I care about where you will spend eternity. I don't want you to end up in hell - that would be terrible. Please take what I'm saying seriously." I asked if they each had a Bible, encouraged them to read it, not just taking my word for truth, but searching it out for themselves. After asking for their names, I was able to pray for them before I left.
Though they were receptive of the Gospel, I am also aware that the devil is a thief, and in the parable of the sower, there are those seeds that, "fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:" I pray that this will not be the case with these two girls, but that God would send others to water what has been sown.
So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.