Tim's Flight Story
Recently I was on a flight after three days of "church business" in St. Louis. I was hoping for a quiet flight home. Jesus had different hopes. I sat down next to an adolescent boy. I guessed he was in high school. I immediately could tell he was "high," and not on the Holy Spirit. He started speaking very loudly. He gave me his name (we'll call him Bill) and told me his entire 16-year life story. Loudly. Others were obviously listening in - they couldn't help it.
Bill never knew his Dad. Bill's Mom suffered from suicidal ideations, and prescription medication addiction, for as long as Bill could remember. Bill had his first alcohol at 12. He quickly graduated from alcohol to marijuana to cocaine to fentanyl. By 14 Bill was selling drugs with his older brother just to put food on their table. Bill was admitted to Teen Challenge 9 months ago.
Bill also suffered from cutting. He had denounced the Holy Spirit, cutting "666" into his hand. I shared the Gospel with him. He said he wanted to believe, but he still had doubts.
Bill then told me he needed to go to the bathroom. He was away for 10 minutes. Upon returning I noticed his entire front side was wet. He immediately admitted he had drunk a lot of hand sanitizer to numb his pain.
He fell asleep and slept and leaned on me for an hour. Upon waking up Bill wanted to go to the bathroom. An off-duty flight attendant was sitting right in front of me, turning back to me when Bill went to the bathroom. I quickly told her he wanted to get more hand sanitizer. She alerted the flight team, and Bill spent the rest of the flight in the jump seat by the entrance. When the plane landed Bill went with paramedics and the authorities.
I gave Bill my cell. He said he would come to my church. He wanted to be baptized. I pray he remembers me. More than that, I pray He remembers Jesus.
There are younger "Bill's" around us than we'd even care to imagine. Will the church support families, and raise up leaders, to be there for Bill?
Our youth are searching for meaning and purpose
Our youth are searching for meaning and purpose. If you don't provide it for them, who will? Our youth need more spiritual fathers and mothers within the church. The church, you, must get creative in engaging local schools to provide love, care and spiritual formation. Young lives are at stake. Our youth desperately need to see Jesus in you.
Youth anxiety and self-medication practices are on the rise.
While many of us may not feel it, there is a crisis in our youth. Youth anxiety and self-medication practices are on the rise. Why? Because we have allowed a culture that glorifies bad behavior to infiltrate and influence our kids.
Statistics have shown that one in every five students will be diagnosed with a mental health condition by the time they are 18 years old, up from one in ten just ten years ago (1). Additionally, between 2005-2009 alone, hospital visits for drug overdoses among teenagers increased by 60 percent (2). These statistics show us what we already know to be true: something has gone wrong in our society—and it’s affecting everyone from teens to millennials.
The problem becomes even more serious when you consider how this affects our youth directly. In fact, research shows “that nearly 4 million adolescents struggle with addiction each year and that 20 percent of all deaths among teens involve alcohol or drugs” (3). Furthermore “one-third of college students use illegal drugs at least once during their first year away from home” while 40% use prescription pain relievers such as Vicodin or OxyContin recreationally (4). This trend has been going on for years now but seems set only to worsen as these same kids grow older into adulthood without any real help available outside traditional therapy options which aren't always practical or even desired since many young people don't want others knowing about their struggles due primarily because they fear judgment from friends & family members alike - especially parents who might take away access rights until things improve!
Our youth are confused about their true identity in Christ.
Our youth are confused about their true identity, which is only found in Christ. Youth need a spiritual father or mother to guide them through the process of learning how to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ, who has made us holy and set apart unto God and his glory (1 Peter 2:9).
Our youth need to know that they are loved and cared for, accepted and valued; they need to know that they are important.
As the church, we need to be willing to take the time to listen and understand. We need to be available to help them in their struggles, even when it isn't easy. We also need to guide them in their journey of faith and share with them our own experiences in life—and our own stories about how God has worked in us through His Word and through prayer.
As a parent, I know that one thing that helps me love my children more is when they open up
about what's going on with them without fear of judgment or criticism from me. When I'm willing to listen without interrupting or giving advice unless asked for it, trust begins building between us as we build a relationship based on love rather than control over each other's lives (2 Corinthians 3:18).
As spiritual parents and leaders within the body of Christ, this same principle applies: if youth feel safe sharing their struggles with us or asking questions about who God is and why He matters for their lives now ... trust begins building between us as we build a community based on love rather than control over each other's lives (Ephesians 4:15).
The church (you) must get creative in engaging local schools to provide love, care and spiritual formation.
The church (you) must get creative in engaging local schools to provide love, care and spiritual formation. There’s a lot of great work being done by educators and youth ministers who are intentional about sharing the gospel with students. But we have a long way to go! Remember Jesus’ words: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house... Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
Young lives are at stake.
Spiritual formation is a critical component of our youth development.
The church must get creative in engaging local schools to provide love, care and spiritual formation.
The church must be a place where people can come and be loved.
The church must dream big dreams for how God will use them in their unique vocations.
Our Youth Need Jesus in You
Jesus is the answer. Jesus is the only way to heaven and eternal life, and He is the only one who can save us from our sins (John 14:6). If you are a parent, grandparent, or guardian of a teenager, then I have great news for you! You can share with them the love of Jesus Christ by praying for them and spending time with them discussing how much God loves them and wants to come into their lives today! The Bible says that it's impossible not to love someone who knows what it means to be loved first by another person—and this is exactly why we should talk about Jesus (1 John 4:19). Every teenager needs someone who cares enough about them to tell them about how much God loves each one of us individually; so make sure that everyone around your child knows what it means when they say "Jesus saves"!
"You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world." Many of your youth are walking in darkness.
"You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world." Many of your youth are walking in darkness. They need to be shown a light, but only Jesus can make them see it.
Jesus is a source of light for all who wish to follow him on their journey through life. He is the only one who can illuminate our lives with truth, hope and love. He shines his light on everyone he touches, transforming them into vibrant instruments that will bring others into his presence as well.
It’s not enough that we simply believe in God; we must believe in him enough to live according to his standards rather than our own selfish desires if we want to be effective Christians who impact this world for good (James 1:22).
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations"... Matt 28:19 (note: Jesus is not telling us to go out into the world and "gather up a church" but to go and preach):
Jesus said, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations," Matt 28:19.
This is a verse that tells us to go out into the world and share the gospel with everyone we meet. Your youth need you to share this hope with them. Please don't think for one minute that sharing Jesus' love with young people is optional or something you can do from your living room couch on Sunday mornings. That's not what Jesus meant when he said these words!
Our Youth Need Jesus In Them
Jesus is the light of the world. Jesus is the salt of the earth. Jesus is your youth's true identity, and they need Him in them!
Be encouraged! Your youth need Jesus in them. You are their first teacher, the salt and light of the world. Your words, actions and love will help them to embrace the gospel and go forth with hope.