In my world, the Christian community specifically, there is a lot of negative commentary these days about how the youth of our country have become mouthpieces for a culture of corruption and rebelliousness. Honestly, some of that commentary is well deserved. Let us remember though, that rebellion and “fighting against the man” has been a part of our collective youth for decades – actually, through human history.
This state of emotional confusion has reared its head throughout the ideal that we call the American Dream. Let us not forget the hippies, Beatlemania, or other bands (as in peer groups) of disenfranchised youth. Yes, young Americans are known to create chaos and an anti-social climate from time to time. I will say that the current version of the culture war seems especially rash and illogical. In the past, at least the hippies contended that they were fighting against an unjust war and aggression in the world. While today’s more radical rebels fight against nature, established scientific fact, and God Himself. It is amazing and scary at the same time. How can anyone, young or old, simply declare that they are a new gender – just because they feel like it – and spit on all of human history? Ok, that’s enough of that…
Over the last several days, I helped at a training camp for young people who gathered together to learn to share genuine spiritual hope with children in the communities they represent. Over 60 teens and college-aged students stepped out of the prevailing culture to learn how to share the Gospel message, present Bible lessons, tell intriguing mission stories, and engage children with a wholesome, Christian experience. I was amazed to see them work so hard to accomplish something that many of their peers would consider foolish. As I helped, took photos of their activities, and assisted in evaluating their progress, I started to realize that I was witnessing the power of God in real time.
God is El Shaddai, even when we talk about Him in casual conversation. He has the ability to stir the youth of our generation just like He did with Moses or David or Timothy. I am grateful that He reminded me of that last week. I was also reminded of the sheer power of the Gospel and how the message of His Story bears fruit when we simply speak it and acknowledge it. Two of these young people, as they studied and presented their required materials, fell under conviction and realized that they needed to call on Jesus for salvation and enter into an honest relationship with Him! They came to a camp. thinking (or hoping) that they understood this provision of God, only to discover that they had not actually made a heart-felt commitment. That, my friend, is the power of His Word.
At the end of the camp, these two joined in a tradition at Camp RAIN that is extremely cool. They rang the salvation bell. You will see this in two of the pictures below. One of them was a lovely young teen who I was assigned to for evaluations. Though I did not lead her in a salvation prayer directly, I was blessed to be part of a process of encouragement during the week. A couple of times, as we went through evaluations, she was nervous and even emotional. I watched her improve in her confidence and presentation skills and then I witnessed the transformational power of the Gospel as she rang that salvation bell for Jesus! For those of you who may “evaluate” my writing with preconceived ideas… don’t overthink this. This young lady realized her need for a Savior and asked Him to forgive her of her sins and come into her life. Amen.
Let me wrap up. I’ll post some representative pictures below to give you an idea of what the week of camp was like. Oh, in case you are wondering about what kind of camp I am talking about, it is our annual CYIATM training camp. CEF has a summer ministry called CYIA which stands for Christian Youth in Action. These young people train to go out in teams to present five days of activities that resemble a traveling VBS for children. This summer, statewide, these young people will share the Gospel with 1000’s of kids and see lots of them make decisions for Jesus. It is AWESOME! If you are a believer, please pray for all these teens this summer, that Jesus will be magnified and many many children will accept Him as their Savior.
Oh… take hope and be of good cheer. God is still touching young hearts for His purposes and the benefit of our world.