Narrow Way
Narrow Way

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Narrow Way: Calvary Chapel South Pittsburgh

Story by Carmel Flippen
Photos by Micah Martin

Last summer, 30 teenagers between the ages of 12-17 participated in the first-ever “Narrow Way,” program based out of Calvary Chapel South Pittsburgh. The intensive discipleship program focuses on spiritual development and was a major success in its inaugural year. Founder Grant Beck looks forward to continuing Narrow Way in 2021.

As teens from the Narrow Way program handed out fliers for Calvary Chapel South Pittsburgh’s (CCSP) community dinner, Assistant Pastor Zander Shashura noticed two of the girls approaching a blind man who lived next door to the church. The man’s disability made him dependent on his wife. Although the couple had never attended, people from the church had offered to help.

Heading over to say “hello,” Zander heard the distressed man sharing his latest struggles as his wife had taken ill. Zander reported, “Without her, he was helpless. We talked about heaven, and about receiving new bodies; but also how we are all sinners who need Jesus. The Lord opened his spiritual eyes, and he prayed to receive Christ.” Before, the man had been visibly weighed down by his circumstances; now, his whole countenance changed—filled with joy and smiling.

Tickle on the floor with students and little girl

Marah Reynolds (left) and Carly Degruttola play with a little girl during an outreach to refugees.

Thirty 12- to 17-year-olds came from as far as California for Narrow Way’s inaugural ten-day discipleship program this July. Living in a local Christian school, participants devoted their days to morning Bible study and afternoon outreach. While Zander helped to oversee the project, it was primarily created and run by CCSP teens and young adults. “We wanted kids to know that what the world offers is empty, but that there’s real satisfaction in the Lord,” Zander declared. “He wants to meet with us, speak with us, and have a deep relationship with us. Narrow Way gives teens the opportunity to taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8a).

Beck Green sharing testimony with students on grass

Beck Green shares with Narrow Way students.

The Narrow Way

“With everything today’s teenagers face, it’s tempting for Christian parents to keep them in a bubble,” said Tim Green, CCSP’s senior pastor. “Let’s instead give them resources to lovingly, respectfully share their faith with those who have other views. That’s one reason we began Narrow Way. The biggest reason is that God put a passion in my son Beck’s heart to lead it.” Narrow Way is patterned after the former On the Edge (OTE) program, an intensive five-week teen discipleship course at the CC Conference Center in Murrieta, CA, which Tim’s children and subsequently many CCSP youth participated in.

Beck had attended every OTE since he was 14, stepping up in leadership each year. In December 2018, he was interning on the CC Bible College campus. He remembered, “It was lunchtime the day before Christmas Break when I sensed that the Lord gave me a vision for how we could bring OTE to Pittsburgh—He told me where, how long, and what it would look like. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.” Tim and the church were excited about the idea. Two days later, when Beck received the disheartening news that OTE would not be held the next summer, plans for Narrow Way were already being put in place.

Beck Green sharing testimony with students CloseUp

Narrow Way founder Beck Green teaches. Several youth had been a part of the "On the Edge" program at CC Bible College.

Many of Narrow Way’s 15 high school- and college-aged counselors had attended OTE themselves. In planning, Beck and his older sister Olivia incorporated all the elements which had made OTE so instrumental to their spiritual development, especially a willingness to be vulnerable and an intense focus on God’s Word. “We wanted to stress God’s Word, because that’s where healing and transformation happens,” Beck explained. Participants devoted four hours each morning to Bible study. A Philippians study was followed by a session on practical Christian living with topics ranging from dating relationships to spiritual disciplines. After Pastor John Thomas of CC Brownsville, PA, spoke at both Tuesday sessions, twelve guys peppered him with questions for an hour during lunch. Another teen asked for help studying the Bible himself; each night Beck helped him understand the chapter of James he read that morning. Fun activities were scheduled each evening to offset the intense schedule, but after the first event the teens pulled Beck aside. “This was really fun,” they reassured him, “but we’d rather have more worship and Bible study.”

Grant carries boy

Grant Ganot plays with a boy during an outreach. Refugees are open for friendship with Americans who are sharing the Gospel.

During Thursday’s evangelism in downtown Pittsburgh’s Point State Park, the group engaged strangers in conversation through survey questions about whether they believed they would go to heaven, and why. Zander remembered, “We set up a rendezvous point under a tree, told them to be back in 45 minutes, and they were gone. We weren’t making them do it; they were excited.” Inexperienced kids were paired with more experienced ones, but most jumped in quickly. A once-hesitant boy shared how he had explained the need for Christ and the cross to a man who believed he would enter heaven because he was a good person. Beck added, “It was cool to see because they know God’s Word and they have the tools to evangelize—they just had to step out.”

On the last night, four participants came forward to be baptized. Afterward, as the others gathered around praying for and congratulating them, one shy 14-year-old girl came to Beck with tears streaming down her face. “Can I get baptized, too?” she asked. “I knew God wanted me to, but I was afraid.” Beck called everyone back in, and they rejoiced even more at her courageous obedience.

Group evangelism praying with stadium

Participants share their faith and pray across from Pittsburgh's Heinz Field.

Walking the High Places

Following their Narrow Way experience, some teens are gathering for weekly apologetic seminars, and a group of guys have been evangelizing monthly at Point State Park. CCSP has created a separate student leadership training curriculum which will dovetail graduates into Narrow Way leadership. “We’re praying about where to go from here,” said Beck. “Hopefully, Narrow Way can become bigger and longer. But while we’re extremely focused on these ten days, we’re even more focused on the 355 after that. Real Christian living doesn’t happen in perfect circumstances. It’s hard; you have to crucify your flesh.”

In house with refugee girls hair touching

Narrow Way students teach Refugees hand motions to songs.

"The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights." Habakkuk 3:19 NIV

On Narrow Way’s first night, Olivia had shared her testimony, using Habakkuk 3:17-20. Remembering that night, she stated, “I shared about a lot of hard things that had happened in the last couple years which I hadn’t spoken about before. Even when we walk through difficult circumstances, we can rejoice in the Lord. There’s a purpose for pain; that’s how He makes us more like Him. He’s making our feet like the deer so we can walk on high places. It’s a narrow way, a hard way, but how beautiful it is to walk with Him.”

Jan green prays with lady after church service

After a CC South Pittsburgh service, Jan Green, wife of Pastor Tim Green, encourages a young lady who was moved by the teaching.

 

Tim Green joining in conversation with CCmagazine in hand

Pastor Tim Green converses with two Narrow Way students before Sunday service.

 

Youth worship together

The Narrow Way teens worship during a Bible study at CC South Pittsburgh.

 

Zander prays with Noah on steps

Assistant pastor Zander Shashura encourages a Narrow Way student.

 

 

All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version.

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.

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