Not only did I have the chance to hear Nona Jones, the head of faith-based partnerships at Facebook, in her workshop, I also had the privilege to hear her at the Big Room main session on Saturday evening at NYWC 2019.
Nona started by telling her story. She was born to a dad who was excited but a mom who was not very happy. Her mother had a very rough time growing up, so she didn’t want to have kids of her own. While her father was excited to have a daughter, he was diagnosed with cancer. Her mother also had mental illness and had multiple boyfriends after Nona’s dad passed. Eventually, she became very verbally and physically abusive. Her live-in boyfriend even sexually abused Nona over the course of two years. While he got sent to prison, he began it again once he got out. Nona began to act out in school. And because of that, she had a teacher tell her, “You will never be anything.” At 11 years old, that day, she tried to kill herself. She had also tried when she was nine. People had written her off as hopeless.
If we’re not careful, we will allow what we see in them to become their truth.
If we’re not careful, we will allow their ceiling to block their potential.
God wants us to have impossible faith that looks beyond behavior and sees potential. There are many who will say that God is dead, but we believe in a God who brings the dead to life.
In Mark 5:21-43, Jesus went with Jairus to heal his daughter. When others had given up, Jesus didn’t.
Belief has the power to change hearts and minds. Even when it doesn’t make sense, we must still have belief.
When Nona was in fifth grade, one of her friends invited her to church. What she didn’t realize was it was Jesus invited her to hang out with Him. As she walked in with hopelessness and extreme pain, she met her youth pastor, Mike. He invited her to a youth gathering the next week, and his family picked her up so she could attend. He kept doing that for a year. Mike understood that the church is not some place you go, it’s what you do. He didn’t wait for her to show up at the church, he came to her home. And he became the bridge to hope in Jesus.
Through all this, she found out she had a learning disability. She then got help and has achieved so many things. Now she has her own family who is serving Jesus together.
How? Because our God is a God of impossible faith.
Nona declared, “Some people have said that this generation is dead, but I believe they simply need to be awakened.”
So what does this mean for us today?
- If we want to raise this generation to life, we have got to go to them. We cannot simply wait for them to come to us.
- Check your team. If anyone is on there who doesn’t believe in the God of the impossible, you need to put them out.
- Give them something to eat. We have to have both an exciting and effective experience. Society is giving them junk food.
Some of you are about to give up. You think nothing is working. You think this generation is dead.
But God has chosen you to the assignment to which you are called. Just like Nona’s youth pastor didn’t give up on her, God needs you to not give up on teenagers.
As Nona wrapped up, she challenged us by saying, “Church is the way that we live 24/7, and this generation needs to know we will never give up on them, because we serve the God of impossible faith.”