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Centri-Kid gives 10-year-old readiness for ‘awesome’ ministry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Most 10-year-old boys prefer playing sports to praying, while comic books rank higher than reading the Bible. But Alex Aust is not your typical boy.

Alex and his family attend Grace Community Church in Nashville, Tenn. In July, Alex went to Centri-Kid, a camp for children in the third through sixth grade. Sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, Centri-Kid seeks to reach children with the message of Jesus Christ through Bible study, recreation, worship, quiet time and church group devotions.

This year’s theme, “Absolute Zero,” provided a particular challenge for Alex.

“At camp, I learned that God is Absolute Truth, Absolute Power and Absolute Life,” said Alex. “Nikki [Flynn], my Bible study leader, was great, and she taught us that we need to be closer to God 24/7.”

This idea of being close to God 24 hours a day, seven days a week, stayed with Alex in the days following camp. When he received a postcard from Nikki, which read, “God is going to use you in awesome ways if you continue to follow Him,” Alex took those words to heart.

“I really felt like God was preparing me for something,” Alex said. “It was neat how Nikki explained that God uses us even at this age. So I started praying that God would use me.” Little did Alex know just how soon his prayers would be answered.

Just a few days after camp, Alex and his parents, David and Christy, were out test-driving a truck.

“It was kind of strange,” Christy said. “We weren’t really planning on buying a new car, and we test drove it in an area that we hadn’t been to for years.”

While they were driving through a residential area, Alex said he was “being a kid and checking everything out” in the truck. So when he heard his dad cry out, “Is that a person?” he did not actually see a van, just feet away, strike Fred*, a pedestrian.

“I saw him hit the ground, and I was just in shock,” Alex said. Christy ran to the door of the house to see if the man’s family was at home, while David went to the victim’s side. When he saw that the victim appeared to be having convulsions, he sent Alex back to the car, not wanting his son to witness what he felt was an imminent death.

As Alex walked back to the truck, he saw Carrie*, the woman who had struck Fred, standing by herself.

“She was crying and screaming, and I kept thinking I should be out there doing something,” Alex said. “Then God just said to me, ‘You want to be used. Go.’

“I didn’t want to go at first,” Alex admitted. “I didn’t want to disobey my dad, but I knew he would understand that I needed to obey my heavenly Father.”

Alex walked over to Carrie and asked her if he could pray with her. He took her hands in his and let God do the rest.

“It wasn’t me,” Alex said. “All I remember saying was ‘amen.’ It was God talking through me.”

Although for Alex the experience is a blur, his mother remembers clearly seeing her son praying with Carrie.

“I was on the phone with 911, and I looked over and saw Alex,” Christy recounted. “Just a minute before, this woman had just been going nuts, and when he took her hands in his, she got so calm. The words that were coming out of his mouth were not the words of a child. They were not even the words of an adult. I remember him saying, ‘Please spare Fred’s life, and help everyone to know that this was just an accident. Help Carrie to know that you love her.’ I will never forget that.”

After the paramedics arrived and Fred was taken to the hospital, the Aust family went about the rest of the day in a cloud of shock and confusion. But God did not stop working there, and the family decided to maintain contact with Fred and his wife, and spent several hours over the next few weeks at the hospital with the family.

It wasn’t until the end of August that Alex was able to visit Fred, who had been in the intensive care unit until then. He had written a letter to Fred the night of the accident, however, and Fred’s wife had read him the note repeatedly.

“I didn’t know what Alex’s reaction to Fred would be,” Christy said, referring to the fact that Fred was still in a coma and hooked up to a variety of machines. He could communicate through squeezing hands and blinking but had shown little recognition or emotion during the previous visits.

“I didn’t care what Fred looked like, I just wanted to see him,” Alex said. “I had been praying that he would wake up. When I got there, I just started talking to him, and I told him that when he got well I was going to take him fishing.”

As soon as Fred heard Alex’s voice, he grabbed his hand and looked straight at him, something he hadn’t done before. He gave him a thumb’s up when Alex told him about a fish he had recently caught, and he grew visibly excited when Alex asked if he could pray with him.

“I was shocked at how Fred reacted to Alex,” Christy said. “The thumb’s up is just what kind of put us over the edge. I ran out and called Fred’s wife, and she was so excited! She told me she knew God was going to use Alex.”

Although that would make a nice ending to the story, Fred is not the only person Alex ministered to that day. Carrie, the woman who accidentally hit Fred, was also deeply impacted by the prayer Alex said with her that day.

A few days after the accident, Christy had to give testimony about what she had witnessed to Carrie’s insurance company. After Christy recounted what she had seen, the woman from the insurance company asked her if she was finished. When Christy affirmed that she was, the woman turned off the tape recorder and said there was something she needed to share with Christy.

“She told me that this wasn’t something she would usually do, but her client had made her promise she would find out who the child was who had prayed with her,” Christy said. “Before Alex prayed with Carrie, she said she felt hopeless and desperate. But when Alex took her in his arms, she felt loved. She had told the insurance company that the words Alex spoke were not human, and they made the most profound impact on her life ever. She said that her heart was filled with hope and love after that prayer.”

Although Alex and his family have not yet been able to make direct contact with Carrie, they continue to keep her in their prayers, hoping they will be able to meet her one day and share with her. They pray that she will not only seek God’s forgiveness, but that she will also forgive herself.

Alex is still amazed at what happened that day.

“I had no idea that’s why God wanted me there, that it was what God was preparing me for,” he said. “But I don’t want to take God’s glory. I don’t want to be a hero. I just want people to know that God can work through kids like me. A 4-year-old can say, ‘I love you,’ and turn someone’s life around.”

Alex and his family compare his experience to the story of the boy who gave his lunch to Jesus in John 6. He gave what he had and let Jesus do the rest by feeding the crowd. The boy received no glory, and the gospel writer did not even mention his name.

“I just opened my mouth and let Jesus do the rest,” Alex said. “The boy who gave his lunch, he didn’t do the miracle. Jesus did. They didn’t put his name down because people would want to be like him, not Jesus. I don’t want people to look at me and what I did. I want them to look at Jesus.”
* Names have been changed to protect privacy. (BP) photos posted in the BP Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: STIRRED BY CENTRI-KID and FAMILY’S ENCOUNTER.

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  • Brandy Campbell