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Follow the Leaders

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

“Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

– I Timothy 4:12

John and I just returned from 10 days in Massachusetts, where we journey every year to volunteer with the American Legion’s Boys State program. Boys State is a week-long camp for rising high school seniors to learn about government, democracy, and the importance of participation in civic life. The students are divided into mock municipalities, and create city and state government, complete with elections, legislation, and political party conventions, from scratch. It’s a wonderful learning experience, not only for the students, but for all of us that volunteer as staff every year. I also serve for the week as the program chaplain, available for counsel and guidance as needed.

It's no secret that these are days of intense polarization in our nation, and there is much that feels heavy and uncertain. Massive social and political upheaval, the threat to basic rights and freedoms, and a body politic that feels deeply sick, can make us feel a lack of hope, or at least worried about what’s to come.

That’s one reason that returning to Boys State every year is so important for us. No matter what’s happening in the world or our lives, spending a week with these youth is always renewing, energizing, and a source of hope. They haven’t yet become cynical or jaded about the state of the nation or the world; they are still filled with idealism and believe that it’s possible to make positive change. They understand the importance of participating in civic life and believe that one person can make a difference. I always leave the week hopeful about the future of our country after spending time with them.

And right here at Friends Church, we have an extraordinary group of young people that are a source of hope for all of us. They too are idealistic, and believe that they can make a difference. They demonstrated that this spring by raising more than $50,000 to forgive medical debt in our community and state. They are preparing to go on a mission trip to New Mexico next week to learn about cultures and communities. And I know that they will bring back inspiration for all of us.

So if you’re feeling down about the state of the world, if you need a little hope right now, if you want to be inspired and believe again in what’s possible, just look to the youth. They may not be the ones in positions of power, but they are the ones that hold the promise of the future. Jesus in his ministry always centered the presence of children and young people, those who were overlooked and regarded as less-than by his society. Because he knew that God is still speaking through the voices and the presence of those that others might overlook. Our children and youth consistently remind me that the kingdom of God can only be grasped and entered with wonder, hope, and trust. May we follow the lead of the children and youth into the adventure and the hope of the kingdom where the table is set for all.


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