And then from the most unlikely of places I found the answer to that little voice that has been nagging at me for weeks. The source? American Idol. Allow me to explain: Last week American Idol held a show where they highlighted the conditions in Africa, New Orleans, Eastern Kentucky and a Boys and Girls Club in LA. What did they do? They showed the need that each of these areas have. The one that hit me the hardest was the Africa Story. Every 30 seconds a child in South Africa dies of AIDS. I couldn't believe it! Every 30 seconds? In just one African Country?
As I watched with my two teenagers and wife, they were all equally moved by what they were watching. We saw how for just a few dollars lives could be saved. We couldn't believe that things were that bad, so we did some research and found that, yes, things are that bad. Here are a few stats:
In 2005, more than 2.8 million people died because of AIDS – that’s equal to a plague killing off the entire population of Chicago.
15 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS. Think about it – that’s around the same as the total number of high school students in the U.S.
By 2010, an estimated 20.2 million children worldwide will have lost a parent to AIDS.
In Swaziland, one of every three people is HIV-positive.
- Imagine if that were true in your youth group? Your church? Your own family?
So what does this have to do with youth ministry and my life and possibly yours? This, we are not here on this earth for hedonism, even Christian hedonism. The Gospel, if it is to be pertinent to the next generation, must have legs. It must be active (because it is). It is not enough to tell a young person that "Thou shall or thou shall not" without the reason behind it! In other words, we are to be people of action, faith without deeds is dead! And I cannot believe that God is content with our being content when a child in South Africa dies every 30 seconds from a preventable disease. Dollars and action are what these folks need, in other words they need to have their felt needs met BEFORE anything else. When your child is ill with Malaria you need to know that those who profess to love you will help you with a four dollar pack of medicine to spare your child!
So in addition to hearing the word I am going to become a doer of it as well. What is interesting to me is that when I presented this to the kids at our church I received a pretty enthusiastic (at least for teens), "Yes, we're on board".
Dr. Rick Warren, of Saddleback Church, has made it his aim to end this pandemic of AIDS in Africa, I don't know if he can get it done, but I am willing to help him by signing up the next generation to help him. If we say we love Christ but do nothing, that is not love, at least not the kind He showed at Cavalry. But hey, that is just what I think, how about you?