I was 14 years old and far from Christ when I entered foster care. I was forced to go to church by my foster parents and I resented it. I was cynical about Christians and despised the idea of having to endure their nauseating judgmental-ism and their putrid hypocrisy. I went as was demanded of me, enduring their youth group’s plastic joy. I sat silent week after week, rebuffing all attempts to break through my dog-collared and pierced stone facade. Week after week I endured this farce.

I began to look for these charlatans at school. Once found, I began to watch them, as if stalking prey. Waiting for that tale-tale moment of truth – when I could witness and peer into the cracks in their carefully crafted masks. It was a wearying endeavor. Weeks passed, then month, with no sign of weakness. I watched them “speak” love at church. I hunted their treacherous twin – that real “them” that time would reveal. More weeks, more months – and still no break.

Could it be that they actually did love one another? Could it be that they actually did care when they prayed with heaps of hands laid on troubled foreheads? Could it be that this band of con-artists were in fact the genuine article, the real deal? I determined to infiltrate further – more of them I would study. Feigning friendship, I engaged them – to discover the truth of “them.”

21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:21)

Try as I might I could not uncover anything other than what was outwardly displayed. Not perfect people, but people who actually strove toward perfect love. I found no hypocrisy here. I found no hidden agenda. I found something quite desirable instead: willingly accountable and mutually loving community. I longed to end my surveillance, and become like them, to become one of them. As I did, I found something else that I wasn’t looking for: the arms of Jesus, because that is where they were – and that is where I went.

27 thoughts on “”

    1. That youth group changed the course of my life forever. Bill, they weren’t perfect either, for space’s sake I left out some key moments, where one teen would fail another, but who risked asking forgiveness, and receiving it effortlessly from the teen that was offended. Or a teen who began to create a rumor, and her friends confronted her and she repented and was accepted back. There were plenty of mistakes, but each time I thought “Aha! I caught them!” they would love one another back into community. I’d never seen anything like that before. Personally, I attribute it to what my tribe calls the “holiness message,” specifically the influence of Wesley’s “perfect love” on my tribe’s doctrine. But this could happen anywhere if the call to love one another was taken as a life claim.

  1. That’s a awesome peek into you story bro’! Thank the Father that he led you
    to that church where you saw His love on display. It also points out how our lives matter
    and so does our example, imperfect as they may be. Thanks for sharing dude!

  2. Your testimony is Honest and Beautiful. It nearly brought me to tears. I only pray that those who have not embraced his Love given for Free would find your words and submit. Let all who are weary, Rest in His Love, in His Arms. Amen.

  3. As a teen we didn’t go to church at all. But I experienced the same thing when after I first got married. My parents had came to Christ and I wasn’t so sure about it. I was waiting for the “real” them too. It never came.

  4. God’s love is amazing. What an awesome testimony of God’s people living out His love and grace in a tangible, life-changing way. May we always live a witness that allows the love of God shine through to a lost and dying world.

  5. Awesome testimony!! Thank you so much for sharing. We attended high school together, but I doubt you remember me. May The Lord continue to use you & bless you & your ministry.

      1. No, we’re not FB friends. Vanessa Hill sent me the link to your testimony. Actually…you were neighbors with a friend of mine from church …Tina Belcher. I sent your link to share with Tina & her family.

  6. I’m so happy God did that in your life otherwise we would not have known you. This story brings hope for the fosterkids of Jason and all the other kids who have to go through this. We have to keep praying for them. I love this post because of the love of Christ shown by the youth. Thanks Herb.

  7. Excellent post. Thanks for sharing your testimony and I pray that they youth group that is at the church I serve will live out their faith in an active way – know they are not perfect but living Christ out loud on a daily basis.

  8. Thanks for sharing this Herb. It is really encouraging. I have two friends who are foster parents and just recently adopted. To hear your testimony makes me think of the impact that they are having on the children that they take in and love.

  9. Herb, I found your testimony quite beautiful. As a teen, I faltered many times but always knew that the love I found in my friends was genuine and that a fair number of them had found God. I’m finding that as an adult, those same friends, even those that I do not speakk to on a regular basis are those who I’d trust if I needed anything. I have found that I’ve doubted the Lord more as an adult because of the number of challenges I’ve faced, some traumatic and some just difficult with poor timing, but the God has been persisent in bringing old and new people into my life to remind me that there’s nothing that I can’t handle and that his forgiveness and forgiving love is true. I needed to read your post this morning…thank you.

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