“I found the information you wrote on “Turf Wars” interesting. I worked with youth for seventeen years in a residential and Juvenile lock up facility, where I was Senior Instructor. At the lock up facility and at my church I learned that first we adults most learn to speak the language of our youth. Then, we must give them our time even when they act like they don’t want it.” Kelvin Edwards
Our willingness to give time and love to children and youth is the key. Eight high school seniors recently received a college scholarship. In addition to being intelligent these students were chosen because they would be the first in their family to attend college. All eight allowed me to quote from their scholarship applications. Each letter highlights an inspiring example of courage and faith. It wasn’t always easy:
- “My life got off to a very bumpy start – literally. I was born in transit to the delivery room, somewhere between the back seat of a 1979 baby blue Volkswagen Rabbit and the fourth floor of the hospital. My father was sent to prison a few years ago.”
- “I was four when my parents divorced. I can truly say that it was one of my worst experiences.”
“I was raised in a house full of people, so I always had to fight for everything, including attention.”
If there is a recipe for success, these youth started with many of the wrong ingredients. Yet they managed to succeed beyond all expectations. How did they do it?
Peter writes in his letter to a struggling church: “God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you. Are you called to be a speaker? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Are you called to help others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then God will be given glory in everything through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 4:10-11)
Maybe this is how we reach out to our children and youth: 1. God gives each of us gifts. 2. We should manage and use our gifts wisely. 3. Remember that God speaks through us. 4. Do everything with all your strength and energy. 5. Give God the glory for any success.
These remarkable eight seniors are doing that. Here are more lessons from their applications:
- Desire: “Despite the emotional distress that loomed due to those circumstances, I maintained my A’ average in school. I attribute this to my strong, independent character.”
- Perspective: “I had a better understanding of how to pray. Throughout my entire life, religion and school seem to be the meaningful topics in my life.”
- A Mentor: “I will be eternally grateful for my mother’s instruction. My academic success can be traced back to her taking the time to teach me, when others left it up to the schools.”
- Service: “I will strive to help students with disabilities. The best thing that a person can do in life is to help someone else.”
- Influence:” In my opinion, the difference between a child that sells drugs and a child that makes the honor roll is the encouragement and faith that adults instill in them.”
- Faith: “I thank God every night for blessing me in so many ways and ask him to keep giving me the strength and knowledge to live a prosperous and positive long life.”
How do we avoid future “Turf Wars” and point our children toward a better future? As adults, it is our willingness to give our time and love. We can set a positive example of what it is like to be a loving Christian adult role model. Are you willing to manage and use your gifts to help our children and youth?
“It is a growing concern that we are losing entire generations of young people. God is truly the best way for all. Anyone can put in positive, quality time with young people and have a huge impact on their future. It is a good investment for the next generation of Christians to carry the banner of faith.” Kelvin Edwards
Note: If you would like to respond or offer ideas about children, poverty and violence that worked for you, your church or your community please write: LarryDavies@SowingSeedsofFaith.com Some of the letters will be used in future columns.