When I first blogged to say that I was intrigued by the prospect of BBC Three broadcasting “Deborah 13:Servant of God”, Deborah Drapperherself got in touch- she is obviously very experienced at tracking any mention of her name online. She said that she hoped that I and my own teenage daughter would enjoy it. Deborah didn’t prepare me for the full-on turn or burn extreme evangelical version of Christianity that took me back to my own Sunday school days of the 1960’s and was, as one woman said in the film, for many “too full on.” There are no shades of gray with Deborah; no room for doubt or questions- she is 13 and the whole gospel is sorted for her and she is a remarkably brave and determined young woman whose testimony makes for very provocative viewing. She manages to embody every cliche and prejudice that prevents so many people from engaging with the message of love, reconciliation and salvation that is central to the teachings of Jesus. Of course we have to acknowledge our sinfulness and of course we have to be sincere about repentance but for many this is not the starting point- they can only understand these concepts if they see love- the love that breaks open our hearts. We shouldn’t scare people into the kingdom- it may get some to listen but they probably won’t stay. It’s no surprise that many of the younger generations of families like the Drappers eventually end up turning their back on the faith- I have seen it so many times. When the Bible tells us to be all things to all people and work out our own salvation, it is unlikely God is calling us not to bombard people with fear or the curse of a lifetime in hell, but to get alongside them, love them unconditionally where they are , in their need context and situation. If we see every human being as an evangelistic prospect because, In Deborah’s words they may get run over, I am not sure how any kind of relationship can be established- people only respond to this if they fear their own mortality at that point in time- unlikely with teenagers hanging around a bus stop to drink, smoke and snog- they feel immortal.
Matthew, Deborah’s brother, seemed to be taking a more sensitive approach until Deborah whipped him back into line. You see Deborah, God is love: not God is like love, or likes love, or thinks love is a good thing- God is love and as the Bible shows us ,love is stronger than hate and hope triumphs over fear. I pray that Deborah , you may stop for a time listening to the evangelical preachers on US websites, but instead opens your Bible and asks the Lord to show you how to share the gospel of incredible love and grace to her generation …I believe that is the task He has called you to. Keep the passion but change the approach.
If you missed the programme watch again at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00j6l77
If you want to find out more about Deborah from her blog at : http://www.deborahdrapper.com