A kindred’s reflection of her grandpa’s legacy of sharing Jesus and the impact that has on her days
BY LAUREN KOSKI
“Do you know about Jesus?”
My back stiffened, I cringed and slowly turned around. Not now, grandpa.
It was my 16th birthday, friends and family were grouped into little pods throughout my parents’ huge backyard, and Grandpa Ken was making his rounds. He wanted to be sure each guest knew their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. How embarrassing.
Grandpa was one of the loudest cheerleaders for the Kingdom, and it was embarrassing for me — a 16-year-old, nominal, self-righteous Christian girl.
Today, that girl is a woman with a much better — and still growing — understanding of God’s grace. When I think about that birthday party, I don’t cringe nearly as much as I did then. Cold-turkey conversations about Jesus are still not my style but, dang, Grandpa sure had a lot of gumption.
His gumption is still inspiring, and visible. I’m living in his house with my grandmother as she grows closer to joining him in eternity. I shoved my foot into one of my riding boots one morning and my toe discovered an aluminum coin at the bottom. I held the coin in my hand and laughed. It must have fallen into my boot from the stack of coins sitting in the old doorbell niche.
These coins are literally scattered throughout my life. I moved to Texas after college and even found some while I was unpacking. They’re following me. Grandpa ordered hundreds — possibly thousands — of these coins. There are a couple different styles, but most have John 3:16 printed on them known also as the sinner’s prayer. He even ordered coins in different languages, sending them to missionary friends across the globe. And just like his cold-turkey conversations about Jesus, Grandpa made sure to pass these coins out to whoever would take them. He left them with the tip at restaurants, he dropped them into purses, and I’m pretty sure he gave me a new one every time I saw him.
Grandpa’s faith was relentless. He spearheaded a project at his small Nazarene church to put a cross on the top of the church building. They raised that cross a year after his death. He didn’t see it, but he believed it would happen.
Two years after that 16th birthday party, I was called out of class one morning and informed Grandpa had died. I drove home listening to the dry, October-burnt leaves scraping at my windshield.
That fall, I started writing more than just my college admission essays. It was the only way I knew how to process the emotions of losing my grandfather, of my flimsy faith, and of the false pressure of holding destiny in my hands as I entered college. Yikes.
I entered college, changed my major, went on two mission trips, applied for an international internship and was promptly denied. So I applied for campus leadership positions and received them, and they consumed me.
I graduated, moved halfway across the country, and worked myself into burnout and disillusionment. So I moved home, took on a completely different job, drifted in and out of depression, and came out on the other side still confused, though re-infused with my Living Hope.
What’s my dream? I’m still trying to figure that out.
Praise Him, our decisions cannot overpower the Lord, and He is not surprised by our lives, and He patiently repeats to me, “Just write. Just write.”
So even though I may not have a pinpoint idea of what I’m doing with my life — and I think that resonates with a lot of us — I write because it’s the one, small thing I feel like He’s asking of me.
Someone recently compared my faith to Grandpa’s, and while his gumption might be helpful, I’m not Grandpa. I have my own gumption, I have my own mission, and so do you, kindred.
This Christian life is not just Instagramming a photo of your quiet time and living a cozy life, hiding from this sinful world. It is interaction. Interaction with the Spirit. Interaction with every person the Lord places in front of you.
It’s easy for me to hide behind my written words. My thoughts are simply more organized when they’re written down, but that doesn’t excuse me from interacting.
We will all be called upon; we will all be asked to explain our hope. Live like your life has been utterly changed because it has been. Be free from fear of speaking; be free from judgment. Be freed to love and share Love.
So write down how Jesus is teaching you.
Have lunch with your co-worker.
Ask the tough questions.
Don’t be so uptight.
Start some cold-turkey conversations about Jesus.
Heck, pass out aluminum coins like my Grandpa and see what God does with them.
These same coins were placed into my hands as I walked into church the other morning. Every usher had a bowlful of them; Grandpa could've been standing there, too. The service that morning was punctuated with the metallic clink of those coins falling off Bibles or out of restless hands and onto the concrete floors of the sanctuary. How embarrassing. I had to make a face.
But sitting in the pews — with my coin tucked away safely in my purse, mind you — I was again amazed at how God uses the unexpected and humbles us with the unexpected. The service that morning was dedicated to sharing missionary stories from around the world.
On the edge of a river in Southeast Asia, a Buddhist monk discovered one of these coins. It must have been given out by visiting Americans possibly a whole year earlier and then discarded at the riverbank, but this hopeless man picked it up. He'd been at the river, ready to take his own life after losing all hope in the gods he served. But he stopped, turned around, and took the coin to the only Christian church in his town. There, he gave his life to Jesus Christ. Today, he's a pastor.
That coin, though it may be seen by some as just a trifle, was sitting in the midst of weeds, glimmering with the light of the Son, ready to do something.
PRIMARY PHOTO BY LAUREN KOSKI
+ SECONDARY PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE KOSKI FAMILY