Last week every time i ran into someone from Bethel they would say things like, “Hey that was a great article on you in the paper” or “You must be really proud” or “You’re doing such a great job.”  Every time I would politely say “Thank you” and wonder to myself, “What is going on?”  Back in November one of my students interviewed me for a paper he had to write at school.  What he didn’t realize was that they would be published in the local newspaper for all to see.  He was almost as shocked as I was.  I can’t find the article online so I thought I would post it here.  I’ve never had this happen before so I think it’s pretty cool and it’s a HUGE encouragement.

People With An Impact by Matt Baughman

A frantic student reaches for his cell phone hoping someone will care about the things he has just gone through. He flips through the contact list for someone who knows what really is going on. He anxiously goes through the list two or three times until a name catches his attention. He empties his heart into the message including the maximum amount of short hand possible and he still doesn’t have room for everything he needs to get out. He thinks about sending another message to get the rest out, but a message comes back almost instantly saying the other person will be right there. The student feels a sigh of relief go through his exhausted body. Finally somebody will listen to him.

This situation is not an uncommon occurrence for a youth pastor. Most youth pastors will meet with a student at any time of the day if there is a situation that needs to be dealt with. Very few can relate to a student’s problems like Chris Day. Growing up as a kid who didn’t fit in with any particular group of kids, Chris was picked on for most of his student life. This background and other events in his life have lead Chris into being an easy person to dump problems onto. There isn’t much that students go through that Chris hasn’t worked with in his ten plus years of being a youth pastor.

Spilling your heart to Chris can be a very uplifting experience. He can hold a lot on his huge shoulders. Having a background in powerlifting has made him physically strong, but things in his past and his strong faith have made him very emotionally strong. Looking at Chris, anybody would think he was a person they do not want to mess with, be he truly dislikes preconceptions about him. While he understands the reasons for people’s feelings, he does not like to hear people have negative feelings about him. When asked if he agrees with the preconception that his feelings are different than someone smaller than him he said, “It is really not true at all. I think judging people on appearances is one of the weaknesses that we fall to within our culture. We always seems to judge every book by its cover, and we do the same with people in general. i think the preconception that because I am a big strong guy and that I don’t have the same feelings as any other person is really too bad for those who choose to not get to know me. Once you get to know me, you find out that I am really sensitive, maybe even more sensitive than most.”

Getting to know Chris this past year, by spending a lot of time with him, this statement is completely true. There have been times where I have seen his softer side come out in heavy doeses. Everytime this happens, the level of respect I have for him increases. He has been the strongest influence on my life since he moved to Newell. Chris has one of the biggest hearts that a person will ever see. When a member of our church is sick or in the hospital, Chris is one of the first people to go visit them and offer encouragement. This is not because he feels obliged because of his job in the church, but he genuinely wants to visit congregation members. “I have always had a deep compassion for people in general. I realized my love/ passion for students when I was a junior in high school. My love for students was finally cemented when I was a sophomore in college and felt the call to go into full-time ministry to students,” said Chris.

After a few hours of getting thing off his chest the student finally feels that someone cares about his problems. He knows that when he has a problem, Chris is just a few seconds away.

I was blown away to read it.  I am humbled and baffled that I could have such an impact.  This is the legacy I want to leave.