I'll never forget Haley. It was at the end of the response time at the Dare 2 Share "Survive" Conference last Friday night in Atlanta. Lincoln Brewster was leading the crowd of thousands in a final worship song. Youth leaders and their teenagers were hugging and crying. Many had made life transforming decisions. I was standing in the center aisle in the crowd of teenagers. That's when Haley tapped me on the shoulder.
When I turned to look to see who was trying to get my attention there was this high school girl with eyes wide open staring at me. She took my hand, turned it upward and dropped a razor blade into the center of my palm.
She had been cutting. She lifted her sleeve back to her shoulder to reveal cut after cut after cut etched deeply into the upper part of her arm, a part of her arm that she could hide underneath her clothes. I hugged her and looked over at her friend who was weeping out of sheer joy. I asked Haley if she had told her youth leader yet. She said that she hadn't. Both friends turned around in the aisle and waved their youth leader forward. After telling him he hugged them both and began to weep along with both girls in the center of the aisle.
Lincoln Brewster was still singing. The crowd knew nothing about what was transpiring in the center aisle.
I kept the razor blade in my hand wondering to myself what makes teenagers cut. I wondered if it distracted them from some kind of pain deep in their souls. Or maybe it was some kind of self punishment for shame they felt from something in their past. Or maybe it was just another lie that Satan was whispering in their ears.
As I felt that cold blade in my hand I was reminded once again of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was reminded that Jesus took the pain so that we wouldn't have to. I was reminded that his cuts freed us from the domination of the Evil One.
As I glanced over at Haley, her friend and her youth leader still weeping and hugging I was thrilled for Haley. To see her embrace the One who was cut and crucified for her sin and to free her from the pain of iniquity was a payday for me.
She left this comment on my blog just a few days ago:
I really wanted to e-mail you, but this was the only way I found to get in touch with you. I don't expect you to remember me by name & I really wouldn't be surprised if you didn't remember me at all. The little piece of metal I put in your hand might have had no significance to you, but at one point a piece of metal similar to that literally defined me & my life.
You don't realize it, but you are connected to me now, whether you want to be or not. Because when i handed you that blade, I handed God my addiction. Thirteen months and i finally decided I was done with it. And now everytime I get the urge, and everytime I almost break, I'm going to remember putting that metal in your hand and that moment in my life when i looked at Marleigh [the girl standing behind us bawling] & said 'I don't think I need this anymore.'
D2S this year was a huge turning point in my life, and you were a very personal part of it even though that might seem hard to believe. My dream in life is to work with an organization like D2S or To Write Love On Her Arms. My passion has always been compassion & helping people. And with the new joy I've found in Jesus I think I can for sure help so many more people in much bigger ways. Thank you for listening. And most of all, thank you for taking the blade out of my hand."
I do remember you Haley. I'll never forget you. You represent millions of teenagers out there who need to embrace the forgiveness, freedom and healing that our Savior has to offer. May they follow your lead and drop their razor blade, not into my outstretched hand but the outstretched hand of the one who died to free them from sin and the pain that it brings.
Greg Stier is the President and Founder of Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., where he works with youth leaders and students, equipping them to be effective in sharing the gospel. With experience as a senior teaching pastor and in youth ministry for almost 20 years, Greg has a reputation of knowing and relating to today's teens. He is widely viewed as an authority and expert teen spirituality. He is known for motivating, mobilizing and equipping teens for positive change. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries, and the SURVIVE 07/08 conference tour, please visit www.dare2share.org.