On the surface, the activism of today’s teens and college students may bring back memories of anti-war, peace marches of the 60s. But the comparison ends there. Instead of characterizing themselves by what they are against, they talk in great detail about what they are for. They are pro-life. They are pro-economic equality. They are pro- freedom. They are pro-compassion.
The biggest difference is that for many teens today their activism has been birthed by a call from God. As they have responded to his heart, God has quietly been raising up a generation of teens that places a high value on equality, service, compassion, and justice. They are feeding the hungry, calling for an end to war, providing for the homeless— along with many others actions—because they see these are part of the values that Christ espoused.
They take the words of Jesus seriously that whenever they do something for “the least of these” it is as if they are doing it to Christ himself. They see passages like Luke 4:18&19 as Jesus putting feet to the gospel. For these “red letter” teens the salvation Jesus provides isn’t something to wait for in eternity. Instead the gospel is about bringing about God’s kingdom and will on earth just as it is in Heaven.
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
My good friend Chris Clark, is the Missions Pastor at Heartland Worship in Paduka, KY. He expressed recently that he has seen a surge of interest among students to do more than fun and games. His church has responded by setting students free to live out their faith while meeting the needs of others all around the world. Instead of trips to water parks and Six Flags, their students are spending the summer trekking around the globe to places like Peru, Africa, Romania, and Toronto, Canada sharing the gospel of Christ everywhere they go. They have also have formed a strategic partnership with Compassion International and have taken more than twenty groups to visit sponsor villages, helping to meet everyday life needs of children.
Countless relief organizations have developed programs to address AIDS in Africa but Clark’s students had a different idea. They headed to Zimbabwe—where more than 30% of the population is HIV positive—to follow in the footsteps of Christ’s original Twelve in Luke 9:2. They “preached the kingdom of God and brought healing to the sick.” The healing message they brought to these people torn apart by an incurable disease was one of sexual abstinence. For hours each day the Heartland students went into the schools and led hundreds of teenagers through a True Love Waits program. Their compassion is helping to bring about a change to many Zimbabwean teenagers that will effect their everyday quality of life as well as eternity.