The Unexpected Journey of Friendship and Discipleship

As a punk 16-year-old boy I remember going to Cru’s high school winter conference called Fasbreak with my best friend, Nate Hershey. I remember having fun and meeting girls!

After college and a year in Albania, I then recruited hundreds of kids to go to this winter conference from 1998-2014. Many lives were impacted for good, memories made, fun had, and decisions to walk closer to Jesus happened.

Fastbreak is happening this weekend in the midwest and some unexpected things are happening.

First, my best friend, Mark Michal is there. He is my flipping neighbor here in Orlando now. That story in itself is absolutely crazy! We have bounced around loving teens, caring for people, and now…two doors from one another and our sons play living room football every morning before biking to school together…WHATTTT???!!!

Also, John Gigax is a Cru Carmel leader at Fastbreak this weekend. Without going into detail I will admit that when I knew John in middle school and high school he would have been one of the LAST YOUNG MEN I was mentoring that I would say, “Yea, in a decade, this kid is going to step into a role of significant leadership of ongoing discipleship and mentoring through Cru at Carmel after me. I can see that.”

Yet here we are 10 years later. Mark and I are neighbors in Florida with our combined 7 kids doing life and ministry. John Gigax is helping to love and disciple young men closer to Jesus at Fastbreak.

I think it is a beautiful story of the unexpected. It is a story where we think we know what the future might hold, but the opposite happens. That is often the case in the Kingdom of God. He gives strength to the weak and uses them for His glory in unexpected ways.

The powerful part of sharing this is that John’s story is one of amazing redemption. It is an ongoing story that will have ups and downs. John has suffered. He has been through what most don’t have to deal with in a lifetime. That suffering and pain that led him away from God has drawn him closer the last few years. It allows him to relate to hurting teens and care for them like very few others. His demons and being real about them are attractive to a hurting world!

I remember spending a lot of time with John over the years. Some of it was Bible study and spiritual formation. Yet most of it was hanging out, listening, and caring for him as a teen and young man. I learned from him and he had a safe older mentor in me. I wasn’t his parent and I wasn’t his peer. We have done life together. Now he is filling a role that I was a part of for years. Love it.

Expected the unexpected. Believe in people even when you can’t see the end of the story. Walk like Jesus with your eyes focused on others and always looking to serve and give in your broken overflow of life. John Gigax is doing that this weekend and that is awesome!

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