Thursday, September 13, 2012

Austin Gutwein encourages his fellow teens: We have a Part to Play

Austin Gutwein has a message to share with his fellow teens: God made each of you unique so that He can use you for a special purpose. In his book “Live to Give: Letting God Turn Your Talents into Miracles” (Thomas Nelson/August 7, 2012/208 pages/ISBN 978-1400319930), Gutwein challenges that regardless of age and talent, God can use you to make a difference. Though He could do it all Himself, God created humankind with a mission: to take care of His creation.

At eighteen years old, Gutwein speaks with wisdom and has the experience to reinforce his message. When Austin was just nine years old, he watched a video that showed children in Africa who had lost their parents to AIDS. Gutwein realized these kids weren’t any different from him—except they were suffering. Feeling called to help, Austin took his love of basketball and decided to shoot free throws to raise money for orphans in Zambia. On World AIDS Day in 2004, he shot 2,057 free throws to represent the 2,057 kids who would be orphaned during his day at school. Through sponsorship from parents and friends, Austin raised over $3,000 that day to give hope to eight orphans in Zambia.

We Have a Part to Play
Excerpted from Live to Give by Austin Gutwein ©2012 Thomas Nelson

There are so many examples in the Bible of God using regular people—even kids—to help Him make amazing things happen. He could have done these things by Himself, of course, but He picked people He loved to help bring life to the world. Later, we’ll talk about how you are just such a person. But first let’s look at John 6 for an example of how a partnership with God works. It’s the story of the feeding of the five thousand. This is one of the most amazing miracles in Jesus’ lifetime. In fact, it is the only miracle, other than the resurrection, that is written about in all four gospels. That means it is pretty important. And in this miracle, Jesus uses the direct help of someone else—a kid a lot like you and me. Let me paint the picture for you.

Jesus and His disciples hop into a boat and sail to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Along the shore, people see the boat and follow it all the way to the other side of the sea! When Jesus and the disciples reach the shore, they are greeted by an ever-growing crowd estimated at five thousand men. This means there were probably many more than five thousand people overall, counting the women and children (Matthew says there were “about five thousand men, besides women and children” [14:21]).

Jesus begins to heal their sick and teach them. Why? Mark 6:34 gives us the answer: “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”

That compassion leads Him to continue teaching until very late in the day, sharing wisdom and hope. But then the disciples run into a problem. All the people who have been listening to Jesus are hungry and without food, and they are too far from home to go get any kind of quick meal. I’m pretty sure takeout wasn’t around back then.

Jesus’ compassion on the crowd shows itself again; He tells His disciples to go get them something to eat. Imagine! What if someone asked you to rustle up a nice dinner for, oh, ten thousand people, just on the fly? The disciples are understandably stressed—they know they can’t possibly afford to feed all these people. It would take the modern-day equivalent of $8,000, or half a year’s wages for them.4 But Andrew looks around and manages to find a little boy who has what seems to be the only ounce of food around. It is a meager meal made up of only five small barley loaves and two fish—barely enough to feed the boy, let alone the huge crowd. We’re not talking about a big meal by any stretch of the imagination.

But it would be enough—in fact, more than enough. Jesus uses this little boy’s meal to feed the whole crowd. The Bible says Jesus gives thanks for the small lunch, the disciples divide it up, and everyone has their fill of food. Then—and this shows how great this miracle was—the disciples actually pick up twelve basketfuls of leftovers!

Jesus didn’t need that boy. Jesus didn’t need his lunch. He could have fed everyone without even missing a beat in His teaching. Jesus could have turned rocks into bread if He wanted to—but instead, He chose to use that boy. The Bible doesn’t give us many details about this kid or why Jesus chose to use him, but I can’t help but wonder if He did it to show us what happens when we offer our gifts to Him.

“Live to Give: Letting God Turn Your Talents into Miracles”
(Thomas Nelson/August 7, 2012/208 pages/ISBN 978-1400319930)

Learn more about Austin and Hoops of Hope at and

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