Mission Creep

Your day began well enough, but now things are getting weird.

Mostly, it’s your best friend, Pat, who began questioning religion ever since Sean and Jesse got divorced (Sean and Jesse are Pat’s parents). But also, a new set of families have moved into the area and now your school is full of people who practice all kinds of religions.

At lunch, Pat asks you, “hey, how about going to the Voodoo Ritual tonight? I heard Jordan and Kelly are going to do some sort of animal sacrifice to make sure everyone who goes gets a full ride scholarship to college.”

This makes you uncomfortable, for obvious reasons. You realize your response could alienate Pat if you are not careful. Quickly, you go over a list of possible answers in your head —

If you say “Pat, you know I’m a Christian. I’m not allowed to take part in other religions,” turn to page 12.

If you say, “Eww! How could anybody ever consider sacrificing an animal for any reason except food?” turn to page 23.

If you say, “Sure, I’ll go check it out — but don’t expect me to be a part of it: I’m just an observer,” turn to page 34.


Devotion Attack

You walk into the youth center after a rough day at school. An argument between you and a friend lingers in your mind and distracts you from seeing that something is different about the room. It is not until you sit down on the couch that you notice: the youth leader is missing!

Everyone else is here, standing around looking at you as if you should know what to do. A girl (what was her name? She’s kind of new this year) speaks up and says to you,

“Hey, why don’t we get started? You know how to get the TV set up.”

Everyone nods in agreement. If you thought you could get out of it before, the tug at your stomach tells you differently. Looks like you’re gonna have to show a little of that ‘leadership potential’ everyone says they see in you.

You look for the Apple TV remote on the bookshelf below the TV. Aiming it at the TV, you click the menu button.

If the TV turns on, turn to page 38.

If the TV doesn’t turn on, turn to page 42.

cyod youth

Mission Creep 91

Over the course of the semester, Pat rejects and changes religions at a maddening pace: Voodoo, Islam, Hinduism, Jehovah’s Witness, Wicca, Buddhism — the whole gamut, an entire alphabet of belief systems — and there seems to be no stopping the train.

What can I do to help, God? You constantly ask the Almighty.

Eventually, you settle on two things: 1) you will continue to pray for Pat and 2) you will educate yourself on the teachings of Christianity that set it apart from all other religions. As it turns out, there are three:

  • Christianity is a historical religion (so in theory, it could be disproved)
  • God is 3 persons in 1 being (the doctrine of the Trinity), and
  • Jesus is 100% divine and 100% human.

After a few weeks, several people begin to join you and Pat as together you discuss matters of faith.

Turn to page 21.

cyod youth

Mission Creep 77

You’ve gone through two cups of coffee and still no word from Pat.

The next day at school Pat shows up at lunch and throws down a Quran.

“Hey! Check out what I’ve got. A Quran.”

“What’s that? I thought you were into Voodoo.”

“Naw, Voodoo is hoodoo. But Islam has been around for hundreds of years.”

It seems to you like Pat is shopping for new religions.

If you decide to play it cool and see where this goes, turn to page 91.

If you offer to compare the teachings of the Bible and the Quran, turn to page 20.

cyod youth

Mission Creep 67

For some reason, this one bible verse keeps coming up in your head. You can’t remember the chapter and verse, but you remember it comes from one of Peter’s letters. It goes something like —

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

At the coffee shop, you meet up with Pat and mention this passage.

“Second Peter. It’s 2 Peter chapter 3 verse 9,” Pat says, knowingly.

“What the?!” you are a little freaked out.

“Yeah, I dunno why, but I figured I should bring my bible with me since I am still deciding whether to keep it or throw it away. But when I got here, I went to go toss it in the garbage, and instead it fell on the table and opened to that page. So I began reading it.”

This strikes you both as … A BIG COINCIDENCE. Too big, in fact, to BE a coincidence!

You spend the next two hours discussing Pat’s questions and problems with religion but you keep coming back to the fact that you both came across the same bible verse.

Two weeks later you’re still talking about it, and have now dubbed it “the episode“.

Pat shows up at lunch and plunks the Bible down on the table.

“Remember, the episode?”


“Well check this out! Hebrews four twelve:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.‘”

You realize God is in control, and has been all along. And the more you get into His Word, the more His Word worms its way into your life — for the better!

The End.


Mission Creep 26

“What’s logic got to do with anything?” Pat spits back at you. “I was talking about my crappy life situation and you want to bring up logic!”

You begin to reply but somebody turns on their stereo and between that and the noise of the crowd your words fall on deaf ears. A moment later, you turn to ask somebody to shut down the music and when you look back where Pat had been sitting, you see no one there.

Pat ghosts you on SnapChat.

Pat makes a point to avoid you in school. Eventually, you give up trying and just resign yourself to praying about it.

You pray for Pat every day. After a few months, you pray for Pat every now and again.

Twenty five years later, you receive a call from your mom. “Hey. Do you remember your old friend Pat?”

“Yeah. I pray for Pat all the time,” you reply. It’s a half truth. You do still pray whenever Pat comes to mind. Just not all the time.

Your mom continues.

“Well, go to St. David’s Hospital in South Austin. They say Pat has maybe a couple days left to live.”

You make the drive to Austin for old time’s sake. No — for conscience’s sake — wondering the whole way there if things could have gone differently had you only said some other words.

When you get there, Pat is sitting up in bed, hooked up to IVs and all kinds of machines and tubes and what-not.



It takes a while for the ice to break, but things warm up when Pat mentions, “say, do you remember that time when we were gonna go sacrifice a chicken in some black magic ritual and it turned out to be a sport team cookout?”

You begin to say, “Pat, I’m sorry about that night. I was –“

But Pat cuts you off.

You spend the next half hour listening as Pat fills you in on a life full of doubt, lies, deception, sin, regret, and … eventually, a return to Christianity.

“… I realized that my screw ups weren’t God’s fault any more than my parents’ screw ups were God’s fault. And eventually, I figured that the screw ups go all the way back to Adam and Eve. Humanity has spent thousands of years blaming God for our own mistakes instead of thanking God for his forgiveness. I wish I’d have understood then, but I am glad I know that now. Somebody must have been praying for me. I think that’s why God finally showed me the truth about Jesus.”

The heart rate monitor begins to show signs of flatlining. With minutes to go, you share with Pat how you’ve prayed on and off for years, ever since that night. Pat thanks you and blesses you for it. Just before midnight, Pat asks if you two could pray together one last time, and you do.

Your friend dies just after 2 a.m., but you know you’ll meet again someday.

The end.

cyod youth

Mission Creep 24

“Well, I … uh …” Pat realizes there’s no comeback to your question. “I guess you’re right. How can I be mad at a God who doesn’t exist?”

You say a silent prayer that God would guide your conversation.

“You know,” you say, “it’s not your fault for what’s going on with your parents. And it’s also perfectly okay to be mad at God. I’m pretty sure God can handle it.”

Pat looks up at you. In the firelight you can see wonderment and shock, with a twinge of hope.

“I’ve never heard any Christian say that before.”

“You mean somebody’s actually told you not to be angry with God?” you ask.

“Well … no. But I always figured it was like, a sin or something. To doubt God or to question God or to be angry at God — ” Pat trails off. You can almost see the puzzle pieces coming together.

All of a sudden a bible verse pops into your head. You find yourself speaking it aloud:

we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

“What’s that?” Pat asks. “Where’d you hear that?”

“It’s from Romans, I think,” you mention, almost absent-mindedly. When did I ever memorize that verse?!

Turn to page 20.

cyod youth

Mission Creep 22

Pat speaks slowly at first, but soon the words pour out, after about a minute of opening up to you, the final thing Pat says before stopping sticks out in your hearing like a sore thumb:

“I’ve been mad at God for my parents’ divorce. I don’t think I believe in God anymore.”

If you reply “How can you be mad at God if there is no God,” turn to page 24.

If you reply “I know how you feel, but actually what you’re telling me doesn’t make any logical sense,” turn to page 26.

cyod youth

Mission Creep 21

By semester’s end, you think back and reflect: what began as a challenge from Pat to attend a Voodoo Ritual has turned into an informal Bible Study. Six people are actually considering whether they should become Christians or not, and Pat is now attending youth group with you — and wants to start going to church this Sunday!

The next time you open your bible, it falls to James, chapter 5. You read verse 20:

let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

The End.

cyod youth

Mission Creep 20

Three weeks later Pat finds you at lunchtime again. You’ve made it a goal to bring your bible to school everyday and to be prepared for whatever questions come your way. But this time, Pat comes with four other friends in tow.

They all sit down as one. You’re surrounded.

“Well, Christian,” says one. The way it’s said is more of a statement than a greeting.

“Pat here’s been telling us that you believe in God and stuff.”

You can feel their collective gaze. They are sizing you up for vulnerabilities.

Why does being a Christian have to be such a struggle, Lord? You complain to God. Okay, Jesus, you lead, and I’ll go wherever you want things to go. Just give me the words to say.”

“Yes,” you reply cautiously. “I believe in God. It’s not a crime.”

“Good!” Another one says. You’re taken by surprise at the tone of voice. It’s not threatening at all.

“We’ve been wondering where we can go to learn more about Christianity, and Pat said you were the one.”

“Well … okay,” you reply, “what do you want to know first?”

“Just give us the basics. We can get into details later on,” says the one sitting next to Pat.

You take your bible out from your backpack and turn to John 3:15 …

Turn to page 21.