By The Rev. Christopher D. Owens
When working with young people, we never know the huge impact we may be making on a life.
Case in point: over 30 years ago, the Rev. Dr. Ken Lyons taught a God and Country class for local Cub Scouts.
A boy’s mother signed him up for this class in the belief that some faith instruction might be a good thing.
This boy and his family were not churchgoers. In fact, at age 9, he had no idea how to read a Bible.
Ken taught the youngster how to read the Bible along with some basics of the faith. He learned about Jesus, Christian love and faithfulness, and what it means to live as a Christian in his home, school and community.
That knowledge and skill received in the God and Country study helped shape his life.
Nine years later, this same boy––now an Eagle Scout–– accepted a classmate’s invitation to visit Mt. Zion UMC in Lothian, Md.
He accepted the invitation because he remembered how loved he was by Ken Lyons and his church.
The young man later gave his life to Christ and was baptized.
A year later, he answered God’s call upon his life to enter the ordained ministry.
I am that young boy.
While I was not raised in a church and I was nominally Christian at best, God preveniently used things within my scouting experience to move me towards faith in Jesus.
One of the three duties of a Scout is to God. The 12th point of the Scout Law states that a Scout is reverent. And there are pastors like Ken Lyons who take the time to mentor Scouts in the faith through the God and Country program.
Looking back at my strange, windy road to faith in Jesus and the ordained ministry, I’m reminded that coming to faith and answering God’s call is never contained in isolated moments. It truly is a long journey of steps forward and backwards, lessons learned––often the hard way, and the persistent, patient love of Christian mentors like pastors, youth workers, parents, and other adults.
God and Country is one of those pieces, and when I was an unchurched child, a pastor like Ken Lyons teaching God and Country was a highly impactful part of my journey.
Ten years ago, I knelt before my bishop to be ordained as an elder in the UMC. One of the hands on my head belonged to Ken Lyons. After all those years, he remembered me and agreed to be one of my ordination sponsors.
It all began with a God and Country program he taught to a Cub Scout eager to learn about the Christian faith.
The God and Country program is now managed by Programs of Religious Activities with Youth (PRAY) and the Rev. Ken Lyons serves as president of that St. Louis-based organization.
The Rev. Christopher D. Owens is guide for the Annapolis-Southern Region of the Baltimore-Washington Conference.