When I was 19 years old, I had my heart set on the new 2005 Mustang. My old car stopped working and my parents were going to split the cost of a Mustang with me. I was getting my stipend from the Marines ROTC and even picked out the exact package that I could afford. I wanted the car because I was single and I thought it would be something really fun to have while I lived it up as a young adult. In my mind, singleness was a time for fun and thinking about yourself. I wasn't married and had no kids; so what responsibilities did I have? I just had to make sure I graduated and the Marines would provide me a job after. Life was already set; go out and enjoy.
I test drove the Mustang that I wanted and was ready to buy. That was when the Holy Spirit convicted me. What kind of a man did I want to be? Do I want to enter adulthood as a man who is self seeking and controlled by his worldly passions or do I want to sacrifice my own desires so that I can live for others.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
The Marines taught me to lead by example. If I wanted the church to be filled with people who were generous, brave and caring about the broken; I would have to be that kind of man first. I had a lot of instructors always teach me that you lead from the front and not from the back. What kind of example did I want to set for all the other single guys out there.
2005 was the year that I lead a team to a migrant school on the outskirts of Shanghai. All the skyscrapers of modern Shanghai are built by workers who get paid barely enough to get by. Their kids grow up in households with parents who are really busy and who attend schools that are really rundown (refer to the picture above). It was an honor to just be involved in the lives of these kids. I believe that God wanted these kids to have a good education and to hear the Gospel. That summer, I was blessed to be able to have the freedom of spending a summer teaching them English and sharing with them about the loving God who sent us to be with them.
I never ended up getting the Mustang and am thankful for the 96 Camry that I am still driving today. Instead I realized that I would rather have that money to invest in missions. I would rather spend my freedom thinking of ways to serve God's Kingdom. You only get so much time as a young adult. I am happy that I spent my healthiest years and my first paychecks caring about the things that God cares about.