Brent Carl is the Vice President of Training Operations for Youth Ministry International, an international missions organization that specializes in providing training and resources for Youth Leaders worldwide. (This is the mission that I am a part of).
(This post is a continuation of Part 1, which you can read here.)
I got there in about 10 minutes and as I turned into his driveway, I realized that either I was at the wrong address or Todd was absolutely LOADED (with money, not anything else that connotation might also mean in some circles). The driveway seemed to go on forever, as off in the distance I saw one of the five houses that dotted the property (all 100 acres of it). The main house looked like an English Castle and blew me away. I drove carefully as I kept looking for a draw bridge and a moat.
I parked the…min-van, went up to the front door (which was this ginormous solid oak monstrosity that took 3 butlers to open…kind of). We went in and he showed me around this palatial palace he called home. He was very gracious, almost embarrassed that he lived this way. I caught a glimpse of what I would come to really appreciate about Todd, he was truly humble.
Todd and I started playing some video games, listening to music, hanging out, and for the first time actually talking about stuff. It started when I asked Todd what he was doing on Saturday. You see, we had a missions trip lined up to go feed homeless people in the inner city that day. We had gathered donations to make lunches and hand them out to homeless people that we encountered as we visited various parks and neighborhoods in our city. I will never forget the look that Todd gave me after I invited him to be a part of that trip.
He looked at me as if to say, “Now why would I want to do anything like that? Look around, I’ve got it all.” To which I responded with a “well crafted” retort.” Man, I know you’re probably thinking, ‘why would I want to do that’. I just want you to ask yourself the question, ‘are you satisfied?’”
I know that was a risky thing to say, but I really sensed this guy was tired of all the stuff that the world points to as success. It was just a hunch I had, so I said it.
Todd called me the next day and said he’d be coming on the trip. I was ecstatic. God was working!
The day of the trip came, and we loaded into the church vans and headed to the big city to change the world for Jesus one lunch at a time. It was an awesome day, and as it went on, I noticed that Todd was really getting into it. Then came the moment of truth. the moment that I will always remember as one of my all time favorite memories of youth ministry.
Our guide on the city mission trip was a missionary who was well acquainted with our church and leads missions trips like ours all the time. He is very well known in the city, especially by the homeless community. He is kind of viewed as a modern day Robin Hood (except he doesn’t steal from the rich, he just organizes church groups to help the poor).
Well, he was talking with a homeless guy named Frankie, who was asking him all kinds of questions about Jesus’ love for him. He was very open to everything the missionary was saying. A nice sized group of us had begun to gather around the missionary, and it was so cool to watch him engage this man who had nothing (from the world’s perspective).
The time came, and the missionary asked Frankie if he’d like to receive Christ as his savior, to which Frankie said “Yes I would. What do I have to do?” The missionary looked around the group that had now gathered and said to Todd, “Hey Todd, do you want to explain to Frankie what he needs to do to be saved, and lead him in a salvation prayer?”
I couldn’t believe my ears. I didn’t think Todd would do it. I knew he was a Christian, but this? Todd looked at me, and then at Frankie and said, “I’d love to!” He proceeded to the center of the circle and explained to Frankie what he needed to do to be saved, then he embraced him with a full hug and led him in prayer!
(Think about it, rich kid who has it all, embraces a homeless guy who has nothing, and leads him into a relationship with Jesus, who gives him what really satisfies). The rest as they say, is history. By the way, at that time, Todd was a freshman in high school. He went on to be one of the driving forces behind many of the future ministry opportunities that we undertook.
Todd answered the question “are you satisfied?” with an honest NO, and went on to be an integral part of helping other students find what really satisfies, a relationship with Jesus. Todd was used by God to lead missions trips locally, regionally, nationally and internationally with a passion that was contagious. He used his connections, resources, abilities, skills, everything he had access to, in order to help students around the world find out about Jesus.
Todd was the kid that every youth ministry has, and every youth ministry needs to connect with, because God can change the world through kids like that!
My ministry definitely changed because of Todd. I realized that even though it was easy for me to relate with certain types of students, if my ministry was going to be effective and really expand for His glory, I needed to be willing to reach out to the “unreachable” with what really matters – satisfaction through Jesus!