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Dane Skelton is the Pastor of Faith Community Church and the author of Jungle Flight: Spiritual Adventures at the Ends of the Earth, a book of true stories from the ministry of JAARS (formerly Jungle Aviation and Radio Service). His second book, Papua Pilot: Flying the Bible to the Last Lost Peoples, co-authored with the late Paul Westlund, is now available on Amazon.com and Christianbook.com.
“Prank, a mischievous trick or joke, especially one in which something is done rather than said.” So says Dictionary.com. I was pranked in a good way last Sunday, in a way that was deeply moving and personally gratifying on many levels, all because I am a member of a healthy local church.
My young friend, Joshua Coe, invited me to take a small part in his Eagle Scout ceremony this past Sunday afternoon at 2:00 PM; “just an opening prayer and maybe a word or two about Joshua, then a blessing for the food,” his mom told me. Knowing that I’m usually enjoying my NASCAR induced “hundred lap nap” about then, she kept reminding me of it, mentioning “how important it is to Joshua,” that I would be there.
So I went. I was about half asleep, but I went, as did about fifty others from FCC. I should insert here that becoming an Eagle Scout is a big deal. Only 1% of Scouts make Eagle. Not only that, but Joshua Coe is a special young man. I’ve watched him grow up, not only in the church but in our neighborhood, as the Coes live a couple blocks away. Joshua has the makings of a first class leader with the intellect, the talent, the diligence, the spirituality and the personality to succeed in almost any endeavor. I’m not using hyperbole when I say that if he wanted to, he could be president one day. Andy and Joy have done a marvelous job of raising him and have a lot to be proud of. (Joshua, if you’re reading this, don’t let it go to your head kid).
Having offered the opening prayer and taken my seat I enjoyed watching the ceremony unfold, thinking I was done for the day. Imagine my surprise when the MC announced that each new Eagle Scout gets to recognize a significant person in his life who has served as a mentor. “Would Pastor Dane Skelton please come to the front?” Joshua then pinned a badge on my jacket that says Eagle Scout Mentor.
I think my family would like to know that I didn’t actually cry at this point. But it was a good thing I didn’t have to give a speech because I couldn’t talk either. I never achieved anything as noble as Eagle Scout when I was a teenager, but now I can at least say that I helped someone who did. That badge will stay on that jacket as long as I live.
Joshua is the only Eagle Scout I’ve had the privilege to mentor, but he isn’t the only young man I’ve had the privilege to influence. That great pleasure is an answer to a very early prayer, a dream really, that I began offering to God over thirty years ago. I used to think the dream would take the shape of working in a boys' home, but I realized later that I’m not cut out for that. Instead, through the ancient institution known as the local church, God has fulfilled my desire to mentor young men. What an awesome honor!
Bill Hybels said, “There’s nothing like the local church when the local church is working right.” Never was a truer word spoken. Lives are changed in a healthy church. Marriages are strengthened and restored in a healthy church. Children develop a confident walk with Jesus Christ in a healthy church. People with addictions are set free. The poor and needy become spiritually healthy and economically viable through the ministry of a healthy church. Young men and women are mentored by mature adults in the local church. The list goes on and on!
So what is your dream? What is your prayer of service to others? God can fulfill it through his marvelous creation, the Church of Jesus Christ. And who knows? You may find him fulfilling your dream one day by being pranked in a good way.