Last week, Pastor George asked the very important question, “where are our children going in this world?” As a new father (my son is almost THREE! I continue to deny this to myself) I share the concern that my partner-in-writing has expressed this past week in his own column about his own children. I too, though still young myself, worry about the direction of the youth in this country and about the messages we receive in media, schools, and even at home (how many stories lately do we see of parental abuse?).
However, as with much trepidation we as parents go, it is also important to emphasize the lives of young people who are changing our world for the better and to focus on the good we can encourage our young people to do. What follows are stories that reflect the great things our young people can accomplish.
The first of these cases are two young men by the names of Alex and Brett Harris. Any quick search of these two young men will yield a wealth of stories about the work these two extraordinary men have done for youth in this country. These two twin brothers started an online ministry when they were only seventeen called, “The Rebelution.” Their aim was simple: encourage young people to see beyond the standards of society and rebel against the status quo that adolescence is a time for carefree, inconsequential living and start a revolution (rebel + revolution = rebelution) in this country among the youth.
The idea was to encourage young people to see their teens and early twenties as a time to do great works. They encourage youth to see the greatness that is possible if they work hard, dedicate themselves and reject the notion that young people can’t or won’t work hard to change the world around them. Their motto is simple: “Do Hard Things.” These two young men started by setting their focus on doing great things, and in the time they were running this blog they have (at seventeen) clerked for State Supreme Court judges, launched a national ministry, and connected thousands of young people together through their blog, www.therebelution.com to start a network of committed young people willing to, “do hard things.”
A short perusal of their website reveals story after story of young people who have done amazing things. One young girl, only eight, started a lemonade stand in Chicago and used her small profits to buy crayons for kids in the hospital. This year alone, her small donation sparked a national movement and more than 800 boxes of crayons have been donated to hospitals for sick children across the country.
In another story, a young man named Michael Sessions in 2008 at only 18 was voted the Mayor of his town. He ran as a write-in candidate and won on the merits. At 18 years old many people don’t even look at these youths as anything more than high school kids who will likely go on to four years of ignorant bliss to the world in college.
A final story from the site comes from 2007 and a 15-year old named Zach Hunter. When he was introduced to slavery via Black History Month and figures such as Christian abolitionist William Wilberforce, it inspired him to pursue justice and to speak out about international modern-day slavery. In 2007 alone he raised $8,500 which he donated to causes to end slavery around the world.
In a world that has us as parents constantly worrying about where our children are going, it is always good to know that there are young people who are taking a stand. In my own life I know young people who take a stand for change. My wife and I support the Save Darfur Coalition, working to promote peace and awareness about the genocide in southern Sudan. My sisters-in-law Ashley and Christina have protested at the U.N. about this cause and now take up those causes in their college and personal lives. Even my youngest sister-in-law, SaraGrace is working with our church this year to collect shoeboxes of basic needs and gifts to be sent to countries around the world to children who would not have a Christmas present. It is an outreach of Samaritan’s Purse called, “Operation Christmas Child.”
But there are countless more stories of young people I have come across who raise money, who seek to bring awareness about countless numbers of issues (many of whom I work with at the First Baptist Church of Laurelton), all who are aware that the world needs voices and people to take a stand. Many of these young people face the same world as their peers, and many of them fall into the same traps and pitfalls that accost their friends. But I am sure that the good we see in these young people will win out the day over the normal standards of this culture if only we as older adults and those of us younger adults can nurture an atmosphere that tells them that they are useful, that they can have a voice and that they will accomplish great things and we will stand behind their initiative.
But it is just as much up to us as it is to our youth. Where are our kids going? They are going right where we are willing to guide them. And we do need to be able to let them go and be great. This culture teaches them to be careless, to be vain, to believe only in what makes them feel good. We need to promote in them a culture that makes them believe that they are important to this world and that they can make a difference. We can be the doorway to our children’s greatness, and we need to believe that they can be great. We need to be involved, clued-in, ready to give assistance, but more than anything our children need in us the example. We need to be as best we can the best of ourselves.
Let’s turn our hearts today.