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Making a Case for Christ
Nathan Karn practices law in Pennsylvania and faithfully defends his faith to kids in his church’s Awana program
Since 1981, only three people have ever led the Awana program at Grace Bible Church in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. Current Awana commanders Nathan Karn, Sr., and his wife, Laura, have served since 2004. Before them, Nathan’s parents were commanders for 10 years. Nathan’s Awana involvement at Grace Bible Church goes back to 1981.
“I started attending Awana when I was in first grade,” Nathan said. “I went all the way through junior high, but my church did not have the high-school Awana program. I became a student leader in high school and helped with Sparks (club for kindergarten through second grade).”
Grace Bible Church eventually did start the Awana high-school program, but Nathan did not have enough time to complete four years of the high-school books to earn the Citation Award, the highest achievement in Awana.
He attended Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina and then earned a law degree at the University of Pittsburgh. He now practices both municipal and business law.
A role model for all the clubbers
When Nathan plugged back into Awana in 1999 as a leader, he knew he wanted to be an example to the boys in his group. He memorized verses with his group and began studying the high-school books that he had missed.
“The boys really liked seeing someone older putting into practice what the kids were being asked to do,” Nathan explained. “They enjoyed listening to me recite my sections.”
Nathan’s faithful efforts earned him the Citation Award in 2008.
“I didn’t do it to earn the plaque or to be acknowledged,” Nathan said.
Not only is Nathan an example to the clubbers but also to the Awana leaders on his team.
“I encouraged the leaders this year to go through the Rorheim Institute Citation red and yellow books,” he said, “and seven leaders did it with me.”
Nathan also attended Commander College 301 a few months ago for in-depth leadership training.
“I couldn’t do Awana without my wife, Laura,” Nathan said. “She does so much to make Awana go each week. We are so blessed.”>
Changing lives for eternity
In 2008-09, 69 kids trusted Christ as Savior in Nathan’s Awana program. Nathan and the leaders set up a lifesaver room where first-time visitors attend an Awana orientation and hear a presentation of God’s plan of salvation. Over the past five years that Nathan has served as commander, about 250 kids have trusted Christ for salvation.
Reaching the community
Over half the kids arrive at Awana on buses and are picked up each week from surrounding areas. Ninety-nine percent of these kids do not attend church. Awana attendance averages about 300 each week.
“The Lord has blessed us with resources,” Nathan said. “It’s neat to see all that God has done.
“We bought the What’s Next? T&T booklets for about 140 kids in our program. We’ll go through the books and teach the kids about communion, baptism and answer some great questions about faith.”
Continuing the legacy to the next generation
Nathan and Laura are most eager to lead three Awana clubbers in particular to saving faith in Christ: their daughter, Abigail (age 7), and sons Nathan Jr. (3) and Gideon (18 months).
“Abigail is in Sparks and she loves it,” Nathan explained. “She is very anxious to practice her verses and completed her Skipper book this year.