Thought for Our Young People

There will be moments in which life will become filled with disappoints, failures, setbacks, uncertainty, and haters. Nevertheless, you must possess faith in God and enough fight within you in order to press beyond what you’re experiencing and feeling in order to encounter better days in life. Think about it and choose to live.

THE POWER OF MENTORING RELATIONSHIPS

Mentoring Relationships

I want to share a testimony that sheds light on the power of mentoring relationships.  So much time is spent listening to narratives through the news regarding the condition and fate of today’s young generation.  I dare say, that if we invested more time in striving to reach them, I believe that we could find ourselves at a much better place.  What I’m about to share is proof of that.

Earlier today, while sitting in worship, I received an unexpected Facebook Instant message from a 25-year-old young man that I’ve mentored since his adolescent years.  I could barely get through reading the entire text before it brought me to tears.  However, these tears were tears of joy.  I’m going to share the text message in this post because I believe that it gives God glory for the work he is doing in the lives of young people we know not of.  Also, it speaks to the power of mentoring relationships in the life of young people. Open your mind and heart as you read these heartfelt words.

“Hey Richard, how you been doing? Just letting you know that I have decided it’s time for me to go back to church and I also wanted to thank you for everything you have done for those of us that needed it. You may or may not know it but you have been a true inspiration and a warrior for God that fought for people that most people over look… It’s been a blessing to have you as a minister, big brother/ father figure to a lot of guys that has needed it… I love you Richard and will continue to use the tools that you have taught me in my own spiritual growth…”

What you don’t know just from reading that text message is that about a year ago, that same young man called me in a mode of distress contemplating suicide.  I stayed on the phone with him talking and listening until I was convinced that God had the final word in his life.  He made it through that tumultuous time of his life and lived long enough to acquire a hunger and desire for a better life.  Furthermore, he found it necessary to come back and say thank you to the people who were there for him when he needed it most.  I pray that this post inspires others to begin considering getting involved in the life of young people rather than sitting on the couch listening to narratives that fail to tell the whole truth.

WORDS FROM MY HEART

Just got home from supporting a foster parent with a special needs 9-year-old. He had a meltdown in which at a point, I was led to get on the floor with him, laid hands on him and began calling on the name of Jesus. As I was on the floor with him I began praying aloud. Over a period of time, he calmed down a great deal and sat there quietly. Nevertheless, later on, he escalated again to the point that she had to call the CIT unit to come and intervene.

I share that little bit of detail with you to say that we need to understand that many of our young people are infected and affected by years of emotional scars and horrors that we can’t even begin to imagine. Consequently, all many of us do for the most part is judge our youth based on the existential realities we see playing out in their lives.

This leads me to raise questions for us to contemplate. When will we as the body of Christ and as a nation be moved to take action to impact some of the social ills that continue to plague our city, nation and the world abroad? Let me expound a little more. When will we be moved to share the love of Christ in the life young people? When will we be moved to serve in a ministry, or community organization in order to become a source of hope in the life of young people and their families? When will those of us who are financially wealthy be moved to invest financial resources into ministries and organizations that are working with at-risk and high-risk youth? When will we be moved to fervently pray and intercede for the lives of young people?

I end this post by giving God praise for the men and women who work tirelessly to affect change in the life of young people. Tonight, I give homage to the police officers that have special CIT training. I witnessed some of them as they operated with care, concern, and patience as they dealt with this kid. One officer told the others that they could go ahead and leave because he and his partner were going to sit there with the child for a while. It turned out that the officer also has a special needs kid at home.

Not only that, I praise God for that foster parent and the numerous foster parents who provide displaced kids with a home and love. It’s not about the money with every foster parent. There are some good-hearted people serving in that capacity and for that, I give God praise for them. Lastly, I give God praise for people like myself who serve to provide ministry in the life of people. This is a lifetime calling, I know that without a shadow of a doubt. I’m done with this but it is time for us to wake up as a nation, and come together collectively to work and serve with the hopes of making this world a better place. Anything less than that leaves us with much of the same – mass school shootings, gang violence, acts of juvenile delinquency and so forth. The choice is ours to make, you decide. God bless.

Knowledge Is Power

Here’s an excerpt that many of our young people need to begin thinking about. Being that the ones that need to read this won’t, I’m asking you to pass this along to young people you know personally and care about that need to understand this truth.

“The economic impact of children dropping out of high school amounts, over their lifetimes, to a third of a trillion dollars in lost wages, productivity, and taxes. The median earnings for individuals who do not complete high school are $12,000 a year. Those who receive a high school diploma earn, on average, an additional $10,000 a year. According to children who have already left school and those who are at risk for doing so, dropping out establishes almost an insurmountable obstacle in their lives, depriving them of both opportunity and hope.”

Too Important to Fail: Saving America’s Boys
Tavis Smiley

LESSONS LEARNED FROM A HEARTFELT CONVERSATION (Intro)

Shanton

A mentee speaking with a group of high school males about his life experiences growing up.

I’m sitting here quietly in my living room thinking about the plight of today’s generation of young people.

  • 40% of Black male high-school dropouts are in prison, on parole, or on probation.
  • 98% of gang members are either dead, in prison or maimed for life.
  • In 2014, 4,300 young people ages 10 to 24 were victims of homicide—an average of 12 each day.
  • The dysfunctionality of families isolated in impoverished communities.
  • A young generation with no sense of a spiritual compass for living.
  • The majority of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails are people of color, people with mental health issues and drug addiction, people with low levels of educational attainment, and people with a history of unemployment or underemployment.

Although this is not an exhaustive list of the numerous attributes among this generation, it paints a bleak with little to no hope for the future.  Furthermore, these alarming statistics have led many people to believe that there’s no hope for this young generation.  I was brought into this reflective moment after coming home from visiting with a 21-year-old young man in the hospital.  Several months ago he was shot twice at close range.  Miraculously, he lived through that ordeal and is scheduled for another surgery in the morning.

After having a heartfelt conversation with him, I came home, sat quietly replaying that conversation in my mind in search of vital lessons that I believe much of society is missing regarding this “unknown generation.”  I call them unknown because if the truth is told, we know very little about them, aside from statistical data which only tells half of the story.  Therefore, I will begin a short series in which I will attempt to provide greater insight into the lives of this “unknown” and misunderstood cohort of young people.  Stay tuned…

A LOVE AND PASSION FOR A LOST GENERATION

I encountered a bad situation a couple of days ago involving a young person I know personally and care about a great deal. I hate to say it but there are a number of young people who are going to remain stuck in a lost state all the days of their life. It grieves my heart to say that but in my heart of hearts, I know that it’s true.

The Zeitgeist of this age has many of them bound in their minds. Fast money, cars, drugs, sex and negative peers are some of the tools he uses to draw them in and keep them bound. The Bible says, “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – what we see taking place in the life of many young people is deeper than bad behavior. To deduce what we see playing out in the life of some of our young people as behavioral issues is an oversimplification of a much greater problem. Whether we believe it or not, there is a constant exchange occurring between the spiritual and physical world. To simple minds, all of this sounds like a bunch of nonsense. Nevertheless, like the color of the sky, our beliefs and mindsets can’t add to it and can’t take away from it – it is what it is. As an added problem there are those of us that profess to be Christians yet we do not believe in demonic forces and spiritual warfare even though we read about all throughout the Bible. Daniel chapter 10 provides great insight into exchanges that occur between the spiritual and physical world. Another great read for understanding how the enemy works in our lives is a book written by C.S. Lewis entitled, “The Screwtape Letters.” That’s a different kind of read and will require spiritual maturity to read and comprehend.

I didn’t intend on writing this long, just understand that I’m writing out of a love and passion for a lost generation. I don’t believe all of them will remain lost in their sins, however, a great percentage of them will. That for me is what grieves my spirit – the idea of anybody dying lost in their sins. Nonetheless, even though I am unable to change their lives, I will continue loving them, praying for them and discerning when I need to be there for them. This is a lifestyle for me, a calling on my life from the Lord. I will continue faithfully serving in this capacity – standing in the gap for our young people until the Lord calls me home to be with him. We need to understand that we haven’t seen the half of it. Therefore, I close by admonishing us to, “Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36 NLV).

P.S. The young man texted me to apologize as I was typing this post – true story. That’s how I know God is still working in this young brothers life. To be convicted of his wrongdoing and led to apologize. That’s why I will continue standing in the gap so that as some receive their spiritual breakthrough, I will be there rejoicing with them and welcoming them into the family of God.

The Hookup

I want to welcome you to Urban Expressions blog site. My vision is to use this blog as a tool to connect people that have a heart and passion for making a difference in the life of young people.  Furthermore, I’m aspiring to utilize this platform as a means for people to collectively share new ideas for ministering into the life of our youth – share prayer concerns, testimonies and experiences that you have had with young people you are working directly with.  Therefore, I want to encourage individuals that visit this site to leave comments regarding the posts highlighted on this blog. As a part of a larger community your thoughts and opinions matter.  For the first blog entry, I want to share a personal experience I had working with a group of teenagers.

Reflecting back over a couple of years ago, Minister Chris Watson at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church conducted a youth session entitled, “The Hookup.”  He talked about the issue of many of our teens being unequally yoked in relationships with peers that are headed nowhere. He began with an icebreaker which engaged their attention span and revealed some of the sources of many of their struggles.  For the purpose of this blog entry, I want to share some insight we learned that evening with that group of young people. In their responses to Chris’ questions about why they hang around people that drag them down, we learned a great deal.

Many of our young people realize that the people they hang around are wrong for them but as one young person named Robert stated, “Some people have been done wrong for so long until now it has started to feel right.” (That’s not a typo, think about it.) Another young person responded by sharing how they didn’t think that it was right to leave somebody they perceived as a friend just because they fail to change their life.  To cut to the chase, I want to share with you what I learned through their varied responses.

Many of our young people are involved in peer relationships in which they are unequally yoked and consequently, have been led into negative lifestyles in which they become trapped.  It is important that we understand this phenomenon doesn’t occur in a vacuum.  Many young people grow up experiencing life apart from their biological family, some had family that broke their heart through failed promises and their unwillingness to be a part of their lives. Consequently, later in life many of these same young people hooked up with peers that have had similar situations in their life. As a result, these relationships became a lifeline for them because each understood what the other was going through. When you look at it from this perspective then you can better understand why the young girl said that “It’s not right to leave them just because they don’t change.” 


They experienced people from their biological life walking out on them even when they hadn’t done anything wrong. Therefore, they encountered peers that could relate to what they were going through and accepted them as they are. (This is something the church should take note of while trying to reach them where they are.) Consequently, our youth translate that acceptance of their peers as a sign of true love.  Keep in mind that the love is “pseudo love” that is it’s a false sense of love that is based on feelings and their ability to relate to each other rather a true love relationship that is based on the love of God and things of substance. Over the course of time, that experience leads to what Robert said: “Some people have been done wrong for so long until now it has started to feel right.” It is like what has been said about people who are abducted – over a period of time the abducted comes to a place of acceptance in which they stop resisting the abductor and no longer try to escape. Likewise, the mindset of some of our young people is “Hell, I ain’t got nothing else going for me in life and nobody to help me so I might as well stay in this which beats having nothing at all!!!”  This is how the enemy engages all of us in the battlefield of our minds – he attacks us through points in which we are most vulnerable physically and emotionally.  We then become so bombarded by these battles until over a period of time many of us begin settling – believing that we are alone, nobody understands and that nothing will ever change.

I am going to end this blog for now as I only wanted to provide enough detail to get the wheels turning in our minds concerning this blog site and the well being of our young people.  Take some time to reflect on your personal thoughts concerning the plight of our young people and feel free to share your thoughts in a blog entry. This is how we will become more effective as a community at reaching our youth. God has uniquely created numerous people for the purpose of reaching this forgotten and misunderstood young generation.  Therefore, each one of us in our personal relationship with the Lord has a part of the solution within us. God bless you my friends and I look forward to reading your personal thoughts, ideas and suggestions for Reclaiming Our Youth for Christ.