Lately, I’ve become increasingly aware of the plight of persecuted Christians throughout the world. Right now as I write this, countless Christians are being martyred for their faith. In many countries, believers are being rejected by their families, are losing jobs and their homes because they’ve given their lives to Christ. These men and women are so in love with Jesus, they’re willing to risk everything for the sake of knowing Him and making Him known.

Yet in the United States, it’s hard to find enough people to lead our Sunday school classes. I’ve often wondered the reason for the difference. Do we love Christ less here? Do we not understand the reality of eternity?

Honestly, tomorrow’s Christianity depends on God working through the youth of today, and everything we do as parents either helps or hinders kingdom expansion.

Bob and Joy Caldwell with their daughter at the Northwood Apartments ministry site

Last week I had the privilege of spending a day with Bob and Joy Caldwell, founders of Global Encounter, a ministry that trains tomorrow’s leaders through inner-city and international missions and in-depth teaching. Bob is helping to change this downward spiral we often see in the United States by building teens up then setting them loose to do God’s work.

“I feel like, if we’re not careful, what we’re going to do with teenagers is unintentionally as a church say, ‘You guys are the ones who’ll go play wiffle-ball with the kids and then we’ll do all the biblical teaching,'” Bob said. “I’m convinced that even though these students at age fourteen may not be the quality teacher that a sixty-year that is precious to the kingdom and very valuable to the kingdom and has been doing it for thirty-years, they may not be that teacher, but they never will become that teacher if we don’t give them the opportunity. It’s imperative that adults—man, be there, pour into them, absolutely,  you know, advise, but not take control. We use the phrase, pick ‘em up by the seat of their pants and throw them in the farm pond. They swim every time because God’s the one that’s taking care of them.”

The results are phenomenal! Bob and his team continue to raise the bar, and these teens continue to surpass leadership expectations. The multiplication has been exponential. Adults who participated in the program as teens now lead youth groups and bring their teens to Global Encounter.

Over the next few months I’ll be writing articles on Global Encounter, their interns and teens, and what I witnessed during the 2011 Kansas City projects for Salena Storm, Nicole O’Dell from Teen Talk Radio, Steve Austin from the Attic, Laura Polk from Moms Together, Young Adult author Shellie Neumeier, and others, then I’ll link to the articles from here. Make sure to stop by these sites to get to know this phenomenal ministry and its leaders better!

Global Encounter Ministries:

Uniting youth with a single-purpose--to glorify God.
Why GE is so effective? Because it’s all about relationship building–being the hands and feet of Christ to inner-city children.
Touching lives with the love of Christ

Taylor Blunt, Lifebook President Carl Blunt, Northland Baptist Youth Pastor Joe Nelson, Lifebook VP Adam Malanga

If this post appears to be a bit scatter-brained, it is only because of my excitement. Bear with me, and if you see an occasional typo or a misplaced adjective, shovel a little extra grace my way. Hopefully you’ll be able to weed through all the “Wow, God you amaze me!” enough to get a jest of what I’m trying to say. And if not…I have a feeling God’s got this one covered anyway. He is pouring His transforming, healing, bondage-breaking love into our local schools even as we speak.  And if you listen closely, you just might hear Him ask, “Are you coming, child? Jump aboard.”

I just left a luncheon hosted by the president and vice president of the Lifebook Movement, an innovative evangelistic organization that is mobilizing teens around the world. These teens are saturating their schools with the gospel. And you thought teens were only interested in texting and playing video games. Ha! Hardly! All across the United States our youth are impacting their culture in a history-making way.

It’s amazing, really. Not so much what they’re doing, but how God is using their obedience to transform high schools–to transform lives. And the kids are eating it  up. Because they’re hungry. Starved, really. But not for MTV or the latest Wii game. They’re starved for relevance. They’re starved for truth. They want to matter, and to know that their life isn’t worthless. That it counts for something. And they want to belong to something bigger than themselves. In countless highschool halls and lunchrooms, these hungry youth are finding their answers in the Lifebook, a shortened version of God’s Word presented in a culturally relevant way.

What I find most phenomenal about lifebook is their ability to get into the teen’s heads. Okay, so that sounds a bit creepy, but what I mean is, instead of expecting the youth to adapt to them, they’re adapting to the youth.

Isn’t that what Christianity is all about–adaptation. Demonstrating the relevance of God’s Word to the listener, whether they’re a preschool student or a retired school teacher? Where would we be if God hadn’t adapted Himself to us. Wow, now that’s a scary thought.  Luckily it’s one we don’t have to think about for long because the Creator of the universe did adapt Himself to us, taking on human flesh so that He could meet each one of us right where we are.

I always find it funny how much time we Christians spend discussing politics, economics, and the depravity of society when the solution, the only solution, is staring us in the face. In fact, sometimes I wonder if those other things are merely distractions. I don’t want to get myself in trouble here because I know many of you are politically minded, and perhaps God is even moving you into the political arena. But what I do know is that God changes lives. If we want our country to change, if we want our youth to change, we’ve got to bring them to the only One who can truly change them. Everything else will just be a band-aide.

So how can you help?

1) Donate. These books cost money to print and Lifebook gives them to local youth groups for free.

2) Pray. For lifebook, for the youth involved and for the youth who will be receiving the books.

3) Spread the word.

4) Look them up and “like” them on facebook and invite your friends to do the same.

Visit the Lifebook movement’s website to find out more.

I’m jumping on this train and inviting you to join me.

Hopefully I’ll have more pictures after our church’s youth rally tonight.