by Nicole Franco | September 11, 2019

I was sitting on the set of a movie I was producing called, To Save a Life, watching all the young people we had hired as extras laugh and giggle and tease each other, and when they weren’t acting, they were praying for the movie and praising God for the chance to be a part of something that would change lives. They had been recruited from the local churches to aid in the telling of the story about a teen boy who, after his friend commits suicide, begins to ask the big questions in life—and ultimately leaves the party life for a life of pursuing God. 

The irony of this particular script—the telling of this story coming to my attention is not lost on me. It wasn’t too long ago (well, sort of) that I was a teenager doing the party scene in earnest. I was a part of a small gaggle of besties that went from party to party, drinking and smoking pot, driving under the influence when we had to get from one party to the next, getting lost, avoiding police, and having a laugh-until-we-wet-our-pants blast doing it. It was all an enormous amount of fun until it crossed my mind that somehow, strangely, it wasn’t anymore.

It didn’t happen all at once, of course. Gradually, between the danger and decadence of it all, nights that began with one type of consciousness and ended with another, and watching friends make some very big, life-altering mistakes, such as getting pregnant, getting in trouble with the law and falling into addiction, it began to scare me little by little, more and more.

It didn’t happen all at once, of course. Gradually, between the danger and decadence of it all, nights that began with one type of consciousness, ended with another.

But, mind you, it was all I knew. My brothers were heavy partiers, my parents partied in their way, and our entire neighborhood seemed to revolve around it. In fact, my whole high school seemed to be divided into two entities, academic and social—and partying was the social. So when it all began to unravel for me, the mere fact that I was questioning it, well, that was worth questioning too. What was wrong with me?

When a revival of sorts hit the neighborhoods where I lived, kids started becoming Christians, and it created a small wave that made its way through my high school. I, in no uncertain terms, slapped it down as wholly ridiculous and worthy of ridicule. Believing in Jesus was laughable, I thought—a fad that would fade quickly.

But it didn’t—and it started hitting close to home. People I knew and liked were dropping like flies—they were coming to faith and talking endlessly about Jesus. One of them, Kevin, was a guy who I knew from a distance but had always thought was very cool. So when he began talking about it and inviting me to his church group, it gave me pause.

I ultimately said yes to his invitation.

When I walked into the church, worship had already begun and all the kids were on their feet with their hands raised, and I was shocked to see them enjoying themselves so much. When the pastor spoke and cracked jokes, laughter broke out, and it was like all their smiles never went away. They were alive in a way I had never seen before. They greeted each other with gusto and gave big hugs—crowds of hugs, even, as if welcoming each other into safety from a storm—and it all sent me reeling. I remember saying to myself: You mean, you can do wholesome stuff and it still be really fun?

Suddenly, all the murky questions I had about my party lifestyle crystalized into a feeling I could identify: Partying made me miserable. This life, these people, this Jesus, was what my heart longed for. 

I began to attend that church’s youth group, and the Word of God took hold of my heart and never let go. I had committed my life to Jesus and every day since has been a testimony to His faithfulness. And upon my final breath, God will welcome me into His presence—not for anything I’ve done, but because His Son paid for my sins on the cross. He loves me, more than I could ever dream possible.

That is why whenever I hear about Rock Church’s Youth Ministry having an event, or gettogether, or a service day, my heart swells. I know the pain and isolation so many kids live with day in and day out—pain that can be alleviated if they only knew there was something else they could do with their time. That is why I’d like to ask you, just for a few moments after you read this story, that you would pray for our youth pastors, staff, and volunteers. The work they are doing is equal in impact and as important as anything the Rock does.

I know the pain and isolation so many kids live with day in and day out—pain that can be alleviated if they only knew there was something else they could do with their time.

Remember I said I made a movie called To Save a Life? It was released in 2010 and to this day, nine years later, we still receive letters from young people describing how they stopped their party ways and have given Jesus a chance at their heart. Many say that they were on the brink of suicide. 

Were it not for Kevin and his invitation to join him at the youth group, who knows if I would have been part of a movie that changed so many lives. I have to trust that the Lord was intentional when bringing the project into my life. With a simple invitation and prayer, you may just be sealing someone for a life of faith and impact. 

It happened to me.


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