Friday, August 13, 2010

Perspectives from the Field: The Pain is Real

There are many young people that we meet as Youth Workers that we would like to take home and raise ourselves. We may know of their struggles in life. We see that their pain is real, and frequently it is an everyday ordeal. We try to touch their lives during the weekly Youth Group meetings. But one day a week is not enough to relieve or remove the pain of life that youth encounter once they walk outside their front door. Sometimes that pain is from events and relationships within their own house.

Many of our Youth are in pain. They are hurting to the point that they do not know what to do or where to go. Our kids are dying, physically and emotionally and most importantly spiritually.

We all know there is no such thing as a perfect life. But a better life free of the pain of living on this Earth is what our Lord intends and extends to us. We must remember that as Youth Leaders we have 2-3 hours each week with those youth. That time is like a window of opportunity for the youth to see and recognize a better way of life.

Our Youth need us. We are in this together Black ,White, Brown or Red. IT DOES NOT MATTER THE COLOR, RACE OR RELIGION. Let’s work together to bring our youth closer to our Lord and release some of the pain they endure each and everyday of their lives. Let’s find ways to reach the lost, to reach those who have no relationship to God. Let’s reach out in God’s name and and tell his story to all who may listen, help those who are searching.

There are many ways to do this. First, we have to ask our Youth, “What do they need to build a stronger link to God?” And, then we must be quiet and listen to them. This is a critical step; only when we listen can we learn from their responses. Talk and listen. Write down some of their ideas. Then act on the information obtained, and continue to include them through every decision that will affect them. Only, then will we be able to address the needs through workshops, classes, events and programs.

Second, remember: OUR YOUTH ARE WATCHING AND LEARNING FROM US! We must practice what we preach and teach. As leaders of the Church, we must get off our high horses and realize we are no better than those who do not yet know God’s grace or love. We might have studied the Bible in depth, and read every religious book ever printed. But when we whine about a pew sitter, or grumble about the way people dress, or express envy about the amount of money someone else has – this behavior and attitude breaks our ability to reach our youth. They know that same attitude is out in the world and why should they become a part of this within the church. It is as if we live in a glass house where all we do is seen by others. As such, we must lay down any bricks, or they will damage our own walls.

Let’s all be vehicles of God’s love and grace to our youth that they may know their Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.

by Earl Williams
Youth Director and Safe & Sacred Space Trainer
Grace United Methodist Church, Emporia, KS
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

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