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Faith Today: Building a youthful community
By Evans Hundermark
Mountain View Church
In a discussion with a group of young people recently, I asked the question, “What do you most hope to accomplish with your life?” The answers surprised me. “Leave my mark on this world when I am gone; Make a difference; and, Die knowing I have accomplished something of value!”
I say I was surprised because often our perspective of young people is that they are consumed with music, friends, Facebook and the latest computer game. The truth is, young people of our community are rich with dreams, hopes and the belief that they can make a positive and powerful change on our world.
Two weeks ago a couple thousand young people from Yukon to Mexico met at Prospera Centre for the Historymaker youth conference. These were not just young people out to party or looking for a good time, but young people looking to shaping history through positive impact on their communities and around the world. Historymaker partners with World Vision and other ministries where money from the conference is directed, amongst other things, to feeding children and putting wells into needy communities. The energy, motivation and even money for this came from the youth at the conference.
But this difference ultimately comes from a God-given vision burning within their hearts, a sense that God is calling and empowering them to see beyond themselves and to “be Jesus” to a hurting and sick world. And whether you believe in Jesus or not, you have to agree Jesus lived a most selfless life, giving of Himself for others, pointing them to God, and ultimately being willing to die for a world He loved.
Historymaker served to affirm our young people, that they have value in this world, and that they can also have a positive influence, but that impact comes firstly through a relationship with Jesus—which begins with accepting that we are sinners and broken people, then, believing that Jesus died for our sins on our behalf, then by submitting our lives to God, and then living like Jesus to change our world. In fact, our only hope for a positive and happy future lies with this relationship with God, and His hand on our lives.
One attendee, Sarah McQuade (19) discovered this personally. “We are challenged to go out there and change our world; to live for Jesus openly, so everyone will see, and be confident in who we are in Christ. I have been personally challenged each year not just to have a fun time and then forget about it, but to Shine for Jesus and be Alive in him all year long”. Another attendee, Savannah (15) said, “God is challenging me to sacrifice unhealthy choices . . . and changing my life in so many ways.” Imagine a city full of similar minded young people whose goal is to live this way.
I found it sad to see an event that has such a positive outcome and mission, be strongly criticized in the media a few weeks back. We live in a society where our young people are subject to so many negative and destructive influences, and where hope for their future sometimes seems so unsure and bleak. Conferences and events like Historymaker, are like a breath of fresh air, and should be embraced for what they bring to our youth, and ultimately to us as a city. To rob our youth of such events, is to rob ourselves. To create an environment that welcomes such events, opens the door for our youth to become selfless, energetic, and productive members of our community, who not only model their lives on the most selfless person that ever lived (Jesus Christ), but who are devoted to “making a difference” in the city they call home.
• Evans Hundermark is a pastor with Mountain Vioew Church. Any comments or thoughts can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.