The millennial generation is entering a time when it seems the world is dissolving into turmoil, distrust and vengeance.
As President Donald Trump scribbles his name across several executive orders, protests spring up across the country and the globe in retaliation. Facebook and Twitter feeds recently filled with live videos of the Women’s March and protests in airports over Trump’s international travel ban, all while Americans question the media and its intentions now more than ever.
So millennials are now faced with a choice: do we allow the political upheaval and heightened emotions to burden us, or do we choose to walk through this moment in life as a shining light of hope and love?
Taking advantage of an opportunity to be a light and evangelize can be a scary thing — pushing aside the comfort zone and acting on a whim to tell a stranger about Jesus is something I typically leave to the Bible majors, but I remember the day when God called me to put someone else’s needs above my own.
Between my junior and senior years of high school my church’s youth group traveled to León, Guanajuato, in Mexico, for an 11-day mission trip. In my young, naïve mind, I expected the evangelism part of the trip to start in Mexico.
God had other plans.
Once I boarded the early-morning flight from Juneau, AK, to Seattle, I found myself in an aisle seat with a middle-aged woman sitting next to the window. Grateful for the empty seat between us, I relaxed and settled in — and then the baby behind us started screaming.
Minutes after takeoff the woman sitting in my aisle harshly told the baby’s mother to quiet the child, and I shut my eyes to prepare for an emotionally-long flight. Suddenly I felt an overwhelming urge to pull my Bible out of my backpack. Thoroughly confused, but trusting the feeling was from God, I pulled out my Bible and opened it to a random page.
Immediately the woman sitting by the window looked at me, then at my Bible, before she leaned over and whispered, “Is that a Bible?” I confirmed it was and she asked if I could write down some passages about patience, gesturing to the still-crying baby in the row behind us. Frantically I tried to think of specific passages to give her and then remembered the concordance — the “cheat sheet” in the back of the Bible organized by topic. I wrote down a few verses under the patience category and then gave the woman the list and my Bible, explaining how to find the book, chapter and verse.
Shortly before the plane landed the woman gave me back the Bible and I gave her a note of encouragement. In the airport the woman handed me a note of her own, hugged me goodbye and disappeared into the crowd of travelers. I curiously opened the note.
“I used to be a Christian,” the note said. “I would pray for my son every night before going to bed. One night, I must have been distracted or I was too tired or something, but I forgot to pray before sleeping. The next morning, I received a phone call about my son — he had committed suicide the night before. I couldn’t understand how God could have punished me that way simply because I forgot to pray for one, single night. So I turned away from God, but today your faith has inspired me and I think I’m going to give God a second chance.”
As I held back tears and sobs, I looked for the woman even though I knew she was gone. Never in my life had I expected a chance to change someone’s spiritual walk would come when I was 17-years-old, or in an airplane 30,000 feet in the air. All I could do was praise God I decided to obey the urge to pull my Bible out of my backpack, since it allowed me to be a stepping stone for someone’s faith.
So as we millennials face the reality of Trump as president and the consequences of his actions — as well as numerous, disheartening events sure to come in the future — we need to decide how we are going to respond. Are we going to look out for ourselves or be a light and tell others there is goodness in this world, and it can be found through Christ?