For Real?

 Pam's room was a mess - again. She almost never cleaned it up . Her parents were always after her to pick up her clothes and put things away. Why couldn't they just leave her alone? They didn't bother Bobby. But as usual, his room was neat. His bed was made. He organized everything: books on the shelves, clothes hung up, and finished homework on one corner of his desk. Something must be wrong with him. People didn't do those kind of things for real - did they?

"Pam, come now. We are ready to leave for church. Did you finish cleaning up your room?" her mom asked from outside her closed door.

"I'm coming." Pam shoved the clothes on the floor, both dirty and clean, under her bed and ran out, making sure the door was closed behind her.

                       

"I hope you cleaned up well. Remember we are having the new missionary family over after church. They have a girl about your age," said Mom as they drove off to church.

That meant Pam would have to keep some strange kid company while the adults talked. Bobby was 17, so he was usually interested in what the adults had to say. She was always left to play with any little kids that came and pretend she liked them.

As church began, Pam eyed the new family. Mom was right. The daughter, was her age and was introduced as Jan. She was sat quietly next to her parents without speaking a word. Pam wondered if she was just putting on a good show for the church or if she was for real. Pam wiggled around a lot and pestered Bobby. Mom and Dad were always telling her to be still and quiet.

 Jan's father showed a CD presentation and talked about his mission work in Africa - somewhere. Pam had never even heard of that country. But it was sort of interesting, especially the pictures of Jan's family dressed like the Africans and the one of their small house. Pam started to wonder what it would be like to live so far from the USA. Jan could not watch TV and didn't even have a cell phone. But as she watched Jan, Pam noticed that she seemed happy.

Mr. Landers, Jan's dad got up to speak after the CD.

"Africa is a large place. There are so many contrasts there. The area we lived in is so beautiful, as you could see from the pictures. But the people are hungry, not just for food, but for any word of real hope. The only hope they have is in false idols or customs. That is why we went there. We wanted to tell them there is hope - for real."

Pam sat up  a little straighter. Hope. She had wondered about that word. Bobby had told her that she was hopeless when it came to cleaning up her room.  She would just throw some dirty clothes at him. What was hope anyway? Was there a real hope or was it just a word that sounded good?

900233034 Mr. Landers continued.  Pam listened.

"I want to take this time to thank you for your prayers and money for us while we were in Africa. You took part in sharing the hope of Jesus coming to this earth in a manger, dying on the cross, and rising from the dead after three days in a tomb. "

"Now let me tell you about Gengi. He was the first person we met from his tribe. Gengi was hungry. He came into our mission station looking for food. We knew very little of Gengi's language, but we did understand that he wanted food for his family, not just for himself. They lived a few miles away in a hut.  We took Gengi and his family some food: rice, beans, and vitamins. We also had a chance to tell Gengi, his wife, and seven children about the hope Jesus Christ could give them if they accepted Him. We explained that they had to take the gift of heaven from Jesus just like they took the gift of food from us. Jesus paid for their gift by shedding His blood on the cross so they would not have to pay for their sins. Gengi and all his family did take that gift and were saved from hell that day."

 "Soon after, Gengi told another starving family about Jesus, who then came to our station. Gengi helped me tell them about Jesus."

"After about four months teaching these two families about the hope in Jesus, a tribal chief came to the edge of the station to warn us to stop telling his people about Jesus. Gengi had told his chief that the magic they used in their tribe was evil . He told him about his new friend Jesus. The chief went away cursing Gengi. That was four years ago. That chief died not more than a month later, not accepting Jesus gift, and went to hell. The people of Gengi's tribe did not know what to do. They came for help. Both Gengi and I began to share the real Hope."

"Gengi was the the beginning of what is now Calvary Church. Our little church has 54 members now. Gengi is getting training to go back to continue the work with his own people. You all helped give real hope to a people who did not know Jesus, without any hope of getting to heaven. I know I speak for Gengi and his people when I say 'thank you' for your support in prayers and money."

Mr. Landers paused for a moment. He wanted to say one more thing.

"I know most of us in this room know Jesus as our Savior from sin and hell. But if you have any doubts, please do not leave without talking to me or the pastor. It was a sad thing to see that chief walk away from the only real hope there is for man. He chose to turn away and not accept Jesus' gift. It made Gengi the saddest of all, because that chief was his father. Let's pray."

Pam took in every word Mr. Lander said.

 " 'Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself... which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace.' 2 Thessalonians 2:16"

" 'For we are saved by hope.' Romans 8:23-24."

" 'Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.' Jeremiah17:7"

"There is only one way to heaven, through the hope by believing in Jesus," he said.

Hope - One way

" 'For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;' Colossians 1:5"

She had heard before about Jesus in her church - many times, but today was different. She knew she didn't have that kind of hope. Mr. Landers asked people to come to the front if the wanted to accept Jesus and the hope he offered. Before Pam never went to the front, because she never wanted everyone to see her and be embarrassed. Besides, her friends thought she was a for-real Christian already.

 Mr. Landers prayed. Pam, with tears running down her face, went to the front all by herself to pray and accept Jesus' gift of hope - salvation and heaven. Girl praying She did not care if her friends were watching. She wanted to be able to have a for-real hope, Jesus in her heart.

On the way back to their house, Pam confessed to her mom that she had not really cleaned up her room. She said she would do it as soon as they got home.

When they got home Pam cleaned up her room - for real this time. She got done just before Jan, Mr. Landers' daughter knocked on her bedroom door.

"Hi, I'm Jan. You must be Pam. May I come in?"

"Sure. I just finished cleaning up. I was not always been neat, in fact, never. Until this morning I never realized what real hope was. Today I accepted Jesus into my heart. I also learned to be thankful for the food and clothes I have. Let's go outside and talk. Were those tribes really that hungry?"

Jan answered and told her more, for she enjoyed talking about the work her family did.

A month has passed since Pam accepted Jesus into her heart. She has tried to keep her room much cleaner and get along with Bobby better. Pam is not hopeless any more. She has a real hope. She knows she will go to heaven some day. She has asked Jesus to help her learn more about Him and has tried to read a little from her Bible each day so she can go to Africa and give other people the hope she has now. For real.

                  Africa

Adapted from a story by Joyce Hopkins. Used by permission.

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