Today I interviewed my friend Sienna from school. She had a lot of good advice to give! Enjoy the interview :).
Hi Sienna! Thanks for being here. Could you tell us about your testimony?
I don’t really have a specific time where I first accepted Jesus into my life, but I grew up in a Christian home, so I’ve always known about Jesus and known about His love for me. But I’ve definitely had my ups and downs. I know when I was 6 or 7, (I actually don’t remember this but my parents have told me) I was questioning a lot of things and wasn’t sure if we were “right” about God. But things changed when I started getting more involved in church and went to church camp—church camp is awesome and I feel like I’ve always felt super impacted by it. Even recently, I feel that I’ve definitely been through some times and trials that have forced me to rely on God or sometimes there are things that bother me that I realize reveal my own sin and depravity. And all of those things have helped me grow closer to God.
It’s cool how God uses trials to grow us closer to Him. What do you feel is the biggest challenge you face with being a Christian in public school? Do you have any tips on overcoming those challenges?
There are two things. I definitely have been praying for help with this, but sometimes I feel almost embarrassed of the gospel because I’m surrounded by so many people who aren’t Jesus-followers. I am sometimes scared of what they might think of me because some people have negative impressions of Christians or just find Christianity quite ridiculous. So I can feel scared about how people will respond, not necessarily when I share the gospel, but when I wear my Jesus Loves You shirt or something like that. I have been praying for God to help me not worry about those things and just be able to represent Jesus confidently.
Another thing I’ve found difficult is the amount of—I don’t want to say ungodliness—but a lot of things that are not good in school. I hear so much swearing everyday and I worry that these things will begin to rub off on me, so I have to constantly remind myself of what is good and godly, and what is not good or godly. It’s the same thing with how people dress—I have to remind myself that even though it’s hard, I can’t be like the world; I have to be like God. That is definitely a challenge because when you go to school there is so much of the world, and it’s difficult to stand out in the midst of that when you kind of want to conform.
Definitely. And I think when you choose not to conform and represent Jesus confidently, people notice. They notice your Jesus Loves You t-shirt, and they notice you don’t swear. Do you have any stories that relate to being a Christian in public school?
One thing I have realized is that you’re not alone even though you might think you are. I remember once when I was in 6th grade, I brought my Bible to school and was reading it after I finished my work. I remember my teacher had walked up to me and said, “It’s great that you’re reading that!” Just because you’re in a place that is of the world doesn’t mean you’re alone, because there actually are other people who are Christians.
Sometimes I get compliments on my Jesus Loves You shirt or, for instance, I have a hat that says “be still and know” based on a Bible verse and I’ve actually gotten compliments from people who I don’t think are Christians. That can be encouraging, because I think, “They said they liked it, and it has a Bible reference on it, so maybe they’ll wonder and want to know what that is.”
So mainly, you’re not alone. Also, people probably don’t judge you as harshly as you think they do.
Yes, we sometimes think other people are thinking about us a lot more than they are. Do you have any times when you’ve had a conversation with someone about faith in public school?
I’ve had more conversations not necessarily about the gospel, but, for instance, I’ll say, “Oh, I’m going to church on Sunday” or say something I believe because of my faith in a group of people that may not all be believers. For instance, I believe that marriage is super important if you’re in a relationship and that’s what dating should be for—I’ve shared that before with people who I know are not Christians when the topic comes up. Though I would really love to have more actual gospel conversations, I’ve had little conversations like that. I’ve definitely been working through sharing my beliefs without sounding like I’m preaching to people, because that’s hard, too.
I think those kinds of conversations are still somewhat gospel conversations. They don’t necessarily share what Jesus has done, but they can plant a seed. Saying little things like you’re talking about can be impactful because you don’t know what’s going on in someone’s heart and they might be curious about Christianity after talking to you.
Yeah. And at certain times people have talked about how churches seem boring and I usually like to mention that it’s not, or that youth group is super fun and I really enjoy going to youth group. People’s expectation of church might not match what church is actually like and I just drop things in, like you were saying—you don’t have to be afraid of church .
Exactly. What do you think about combating people’s false expectations about Christianity? I feel like there’s this stereotype that Christians are judgemental, church is boring, Christians want to force their beliefs on you, and Christians don’t know how to have fun because they’re too strict. Or that if you’re a Christian it doesn’t mean you actually have to live differently; you just go to church and live the rest of your life the same.
The best way to combat those things is to live them out.You should oppose the stereotypes but still live differently. For instance, you wouldn’t want to oppose the stereotype that Christians are no fun by going to parties all of the time and not doing great things. I think the best way is to live your faith out and show people that not only is the Christian life a very rewarding lifestyle, it is the best one.
Also, don’t conform to the world. That’s how you can oppose that stereotype that someone can be a Christian and of the world at the same time. Living your life the closest way to the Bible tells you to will in itself counteract all of those stereotypes because most of the stereotypes don’t align with the Bible. For example, Christians should not be judgemental. Is it true that people are sinful? Yes, but God is the judge of that, not Christians. A lot of these things seem to be based in biblical truth but twisted.
Yeah, definitely. That makes sense. Do you have any advice for public-schooled Christians?
This is something my small group leader told me, and I think it’s really good advice. She calls it two minutes of courage. It’s encouraging if you’re in a situation where you’re doing something you feel called to by God but it’s scary, like going up to talk to someone new. She calls it two minutes of courage because those minutes are scary but at the end of the day, two minutes is really not a lot. You can be courageous for two minutes, or sometimes it’s even thirty seconds. Even though it’s super hard, and I struggle with that, just remember [obeying something scary God tells you to do] only takes two minutes of courage. One hundred and twenty seconds.
Yes. I’ve heard people call it “30 seconds of awkwardness.” You just have to get past the awkwardness of first going up to someone to share the gospel and then the conversation will usually become easier. Thanks for talking with me today!
Yeah, thanks for having me!
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