• 32°

I will never stop

By Nathan Rice

I was driving home after completing the final event of a student ministry that I started more than 14 years prior. The number of students participating had dwindled to a point where the ministry was no longer viable, and it had to be shuttered.

My mind thought back to the many students who came over the years. An overwhelming majority of the ones who once listened to the teachings of this ministry rejected the message it so diligently tried to teach. They chose to live their lives in a way that contrasts with Scripture.

The next day, I had the honor of sharing God’s word at the church that I have been a part of since I was 8 years old. A little more than a dozen people sat scattered across a sanctuary that was vastly empty. I thought about the many people who once filled the building but had chosen to walk away for one reason or another.

A few days later, I was still trying to process my thoughts regarding the events of the prior weekend when a topic that was trending on social media caught my attention. I flipped through the comments of people sharing their opinion, and I saw a large group of people saying that everyone who believes as I do is hateful, intolerant and evil. The digital mob didn’t hold back in letting me know exactly what they thought of me.

These consecutive events helped me realize that I am in a small minority of people in America. I’ve decided to follow Jesus, and that decision places me outside the mainstream of society. Many people declare my beliefs irrelevant and foolish while others call me an enemy of an enlightened nation.

There can be no denying that a large majority of Americans have rejected the Christian faith and that the Christian church in America is experiencing a major decline.

I know most Americans won’t agree with what I’m about to say, but I’m going to say it regardless. I made the decision to follow Jesus, and I will never stop following Him. I’m not ashamed of this statement. I’ll tell anyone I can about this decision. I’ve dedicated my life to knowing Jesus and making Him known.

I understand that my decision places me in conflict with the culture around me, but I will never stop following Jesus. I have no desire to leave Him. I’ve seen what society and the culture can give me, but it does not compare to Jesus’ offer of a new life, an abundant and free life.

I’m also fully aware that a large majority of Americans will not join me, but I will not stop following Him. My decision isn’t based on the number of people following Jesus, nor is it based on who will join me. My decision is based on the One I am following.

I do not doubt that my decision will lead to ridicule and that some may even hate me because of my decision. This does not come as a surprise to me, because Jesus told His disciples that they would be hated because of their decision to follow Him. I don’t revel in this fact, but I won’t let anything keep me from the One who rescued me.

I’m saying this in the most public forum available to me. I will never stop following Jesus.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.