Hope Of A Nation
By Lois J. Stucky
"A radical life devoted to God." You might think this is being spoken of heroic missionaries of the past, like Hudson Taylor, C. T. Studd, David Livingstone, William Carey and the like. Certainly these are fitting words to describe such noble missionaries. But remarkably, friends, these words were spoken by a young man about some choice young people of the present generation.
This young man, Mark Ford, helped pray for young people who came forward for prayer at the "LA/DC 2000" conference for youth in July. Over 20,000 were gathered in Washington, D.C. He said those with whom he prayed came--"some for personal salvation, some seeking answers and direction in their lives. But the majority...wanted a radical life devoted to God. They cried out to God that they could make a difference, that they could live truly meaningful lives." (From Intercessors for America Newsletter.)
The above mentioned "LA/DC 2000" conference is not the same as the one told about on page eight of this issue. On that day, September 2, there was another gathering of tens of thousands of young people and their parents, again in Washington D.C., to spend a day in fasting and prayer. You read on page eight the covenant to which they have committed themselves to live all-out for God.
What a ray of hope these accounts give in light of the dismal picture of today’s youth frequently flashed before us! Some youth choose to call themselves the "Revival Generation" instead of "Generation X" as they are dubbed by society. Let us thank God and take heart when we hear of young people devoting their lives to God!
Who Is Responsible?
But we have to face the fact that far too many young people are tragically devoting themselves to a life of violence and crime, or alcohol and drugs, or self-indulgence and sex, or the bizarre and the occult. Who is responsible for this, and who is responsible to do something about it?
Some years back when we heard much about what was then termed "juvenile delinquency," some stoutly declared that the problem was as much or more "adult delinquency." We all know that children are for the most part a reflection of those who train or fail to train them. The Bible clearly commands, "Train up a child in the way in which he should go..." (Proverbs 22:6).
Parents and the home bear the greatest responsibility for the training of children and youth. The church surely plays an important role, as well as the schools, where children spend hours daily. Thank God for all who are investing much good effort in training youth. We who are not directly involved with training youth must certainly uphold in prayer those who are.
We are all aware, however, of the sad lack of Christian homes in today’s society, and of the inadequate training for right living done in many homes. In fact, with the unsupervised media piped into many homes, wrong standards and principles are picked up. The great number of children and youth who are unchurched means they miss out on the training that could be obtained there.
Since the majority of students attend public schools, this leaves the public schools as the chief influence in the lives of many. After the Bible and prayer and the teaching of creation were taken out of public schools, the hope of good training there is to have teachers of character whose lives demonstrate faithful obedience to God and His Word, the very foundation of a meaningful, upright life. God charges one generation to pass this on to the next.
It is a bright ray of hope to read in an article by Judy Turpin in Intercessors for America Newsletter, that it is estimated there are more than 650,000 born again Christians serving in public education. Judy Turpin is National Prayer Coordinator of Christian Educators Association International. She says, "Public schools need power prayers." A brief summary of her suggestions includes choosing a school near you and walking around it, possibly with two or three others, once a week, praying for all who are within and all that is going on.
She further suggests remembering public schools and Christian educators in fastings along with prayers. Particularly uphold them if you learn about crisis situations in the school. It would be encouraging to Christian teachers to know that someone has taken them on his or her heart for daily prayer as they deal with the difficult demands of teaching a roomful of children or adolescents. She also suggests "drive by prayers" as you pass by a public school anywhere.
We are told there are 56,000 middle, junior high and high schools in America. An organization called Challenge 2000, seeks to strengthen prayer and Christian outreach ministry to these schools. About half of these schools have been adopted.
Religion News Service reports another note of encouragement: the Chicago Public Schools CEO, Paul Vallas, approved the distribution by a ministry, of 100,000 book covers featuring the Ten Commandments on one side and inspirational quotes on the other side, as long as no student is forced to take one and as long as distribution is done off school grounds. Think how influential it would be as students have easy access to these commandments day after day. Might many gain new understanding of right and wrong and come to recognize sin in their lives for which they need to repent. Another encouraging news item is that in Indiana in 1999 there were 400 fewer teen age births than previously. Credit is given in part to the emphasis to teens on abstinence from sex until marriage. Might this emphasis be continued and increased.
Prayer Avails Much!
How we need to embrace this generation of children and young people in our prayers as widely and as warmly as we can! Wishing with all of our heart for a good outcome for the life of those children we know and love as well as for those about whom no one seems to care --is not enough. If John Wesley is right in saying, as quoted in Colin Peckham’s article, that "God does nothing but by prayer and everything with it," then how we need to turn every godly desire we have for our young people into fervent prayer.
Those of us who have a Christian heritage and recongize that we are in great part a "product" of the prayers of those who have gone on before us, can show our gratitude beyond words. We can seek to pass on the blessing by praying diligently for oncoming generations.
A loving grandmother whom we knew in Kansas, knowing she had only a few days left to live on this earth, spent time those precious last days in prayer for her children, her grandchildren, the mates they would one day marry, the children they would have, on to several generations. She was passing on generational blessings!
Aflame For Christ!
Young people of character and righteousness are the hope of a nation. Young people of character, righteousness and devotion to Christ are the hope of His Kingdom. Thank God He is at work among young people today and is able to reconstruct lives that have been cheated out of significant advantages in life. Thank God for those He is using to train the lambs and young sheep, directing them in paths of righteousness.
Youth, with its enthusiasm and zeal, its idealism and daring abandonment to God--how God must delight in it! Expression of the devoted heart comes to remembrance in the words of a chorus written some years ago by a talented fellow Bible College student, Mary Lee Popps Hodgin. As a youth conference congregation of young people we sang it with much sincerity and gusto:
"Aflame for Christ my Saviour.
Aflame for Christ my Lord.
I’ll always be aflame for Him,
To light the way for those in sin.
Then onward, forward for my Lord,
His truth my strength,
His Word my sword.
My life for Him I sacrifice.
I’ll be aflame for Christ!"
God graciously takes the yielded life, immature though it be, with many slips along the way, and He patiently, unerringly guides, if He is given control. His blessed workings are for intimacy with Himself, for heart fulfillment and for usefulness for His glorious Kingdom. What more could we desire for our youth?
Thank God for those who have been commissioned by God to harness the energy of youth and direct it toward world evangelization. Remarkable advances for God in difficult areas have been made by them. Let’s ask God to raise up many more to swell the ranks of those who help bring to completion the gathering in of those of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.
Ask God to make you alert to young people you can influence to give their lives wholly to God, and then faithfully do it.