True stories for children - 5

Courage to Change  





Role Playing Games (RPG): Card or computer games in which children play the role of a character in a fantasy world. To win the game, many children imagine that they have power to do magic and casts spells. God warns us to have nothing to do with such occult forces. 

Brian's story:

It all started back in the spring of 1998. I was eleven years old, and my family had just gotten on the Internet. I thought it was wonderful. Soon I got into role-playing online, and it was SO addictive. Those who say that RPGs are harmless and helpful have NO idea what they are talking about. My "character" got "killed" and I was very upset. It was as if a part of me had died. Soon I had a new character, and I was hooked on it more so than ever.

In the fall of '98 though, I got tossed by AOL for bad language in a RP [role-playing] chat, and I lost ALL of my privileges except for website visiting and e-mail. At first I thought it was terrible, but I gradually adjusted, and used the Internet for reference. Then, after three months, my mother gave my chat privileges back. I was fine for a little while until I got re-ensnared in RPGs .

By early spring of 1999 it was terrible. I had become more obsessed than ever and spent almost all of my free time online role-playing. I soon began to spiral downward.

When summer rolled around, I had more free time. In the real world, I had made some new friends. Now I spent most of my day role-playing and my nights talking to my "friends". When they offered me marijuana, I willingly accepted. (The RPGs had lowered my resistance to bad ideas, etc.) I smoked it and got a buzz off of it. That felt good. A few days later, one of my friends took me to a nearby lake, and offered me a pipe full of smoking marijuana. I took it, and smoked it, I got VERY high, he walked me home, and we sat outside talking for hours. Soon, I was smoking it regularly (By the way, I am an asthmatic). Soon I was immersed in drugs and in total rebellion toward my mom.

By this time, school had started back up, and I was discussing drug use, etc. with the burnouts at my school. It didn't work too well though. I also went to church, so I had to keep a double life going.

One weekend I went with the youth group on a trip. It was wonderful! When we got back, I repented and gave my life to Jesus. Then I tore up my $50 deck of pokemon cards. I know that He has forgiven all my sins, and now I try to save others.  

It was hard to explain my faith to my non-Christian friends. They thought I had become kind of weird. The Game-Playing friends acted like I didn't exist, especially when I tried to share the Gospel with them. It was hard, but it was worth it. I read in the Bible that no matter what happens on earth, it's only temporary. 

I now spend a lot of my time trying to witness to people. Some make fun of me and others ignore me, and sometimes it really hurts. But some respect me even if they donít want to believe or listen. In any case, I want to follow Jesus. He freed me from the role-playing obsession through the cross. He has pardoned me by his blood, and I am on my way to heaven. Thatís what really counts.

God's Word

Remember, people who reject God also reject God's people. So when Brian began to follow Jesus, his old friends didn't want to be with him anymore. They sensed the life of Jesus inside Brian, and they felt uncomfortable when they did bad things.

But Bryan knew something they didn't know. He knew that Jesus had forgiven him and would be his friend forever. If he would choose to trust his wonderful Shepherd, then God would lead him and enable him to follow. By himself he would have been afraid to upset his friends and talk about God. Every good thing he did would be by God's grace -- a gift that he didn't deserve. That's why this verse became one of Bryan's favorite: 

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

Let's talk about it.

1. What does Ephesians 2:8-9 tell us about our wonderful God?  

2. What do the same verses tell us about God's love for Bryan?   

3. Sometimes it is hard to understand why the "world" -- mainly the people who don't know Jesus -- rejects true Christianity. But 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 shows us one of the reasons why people turn away, even when we try to show them God's love. What does it say? 

"Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life."

4. How can God's special grace help you to walk bravely with Him, even if your friends turn against you?

"Be strong and of good courage; 
do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, 
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9

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