Growing up in a family who saw religion as not only priority, but a way of life is something I will always cherish. Ever since I can remember, my family and I had the same routine Sunday, after Sunday, after Sunday. Even though my parents were constantly busy with their jobs, I was always running around to attend my different sporting events while my brother and sister were vigorously training to improve their sound on the instruments they played in the school band, we somehow found our way to church every Sunday. I would receive a feeling of relief every time I walked into the church we attend; Prestonwood Baptist Church. My family has gone to this safe haven since before I can remember, and I know I do not plan on leaving any time soon. The emotions of gratitude, love, faith, and joy are overwhelming each Sunday morning, and during the weekly bible studies. Strangers speaking to us about the greatness of the Lord, visiting with family friends, and taking in yet applying the Word of God to my life has continuously drawn me in to the messages taught at Prestonwood Baptist Church.
Through the many years of meeting new people, there is one experience in particular that comes to mind that I feel the need to share; Young Life. The program equivalent at Prestonwood is called ‘Bible fellowship’ and the atmosphere given off by the small group of people you meet with once a week is nothing but encouragement and wisdom. These small group meetings offer an opportunity to build relationships with others who are experiencing the same struggles as you to ensure mutual growth in the study of God’s word. It is important that each bible study targets a group of people to meet with because they can all relate to each other; instead, of feeling like an outsider. The bible study leader strives to use specific versus that each individual can relate too on a personal level to hopefully open up their eyes to see that there is a way up from their bottom. Their teachings provide restoration for any suffering soul. If someone genuinely believes in the messages they are listening to, God’s word has the ability to revive the inner man, and strengthen them in time of despair.
These hard times are when it is most important to intensify our belief and have faith that the Lord will deliver what he has promised. With that being said the main goal of any bible study, but Young life in particular, is to “introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and to help them grow in their faith.” Exposing these open-minded children to the goodness of the Lord when their young is the best way to start them on a healthy life plan. Exposing them to the internal testimony of the bible will embolden all of the people who analyze it. Choosing to set your mind to please God will increase one’s courage to choose to make the right decision despite pure pressure from others. As they grow older and more mature, they will already have a strong head on their shoulders that will make it easier to decipher between what is right and what is wrong in the eyes of the Lord. Exposing them to the internal testimony of the bible will embolden the one who analyzes it.
Young life specifically targets the youth population by first reaching out and just praying for them, their struggles, families, and many other aspects of their lives that seem to be dwindling. Individuals struggle in different ways as the average adult life seems to throw curve balls at you on a daily basis. By attending youth groups and bible studies, mentors, pastors, and other youth leaders strive to get to know you on a deeper level. They begin to understand the struggles you might be facing and the way God’s word would be able to guide the developing adult along the correct path of life. These small groups are beneficial in many ways. For example, being in a group with people who share the same interest as you, and creating personal relationships are fantastic ways to get involved with the community, create lifelong friendships, and receive or share the gospel of the Lord. The Young Life organization is unique in the fact that its primary target audience is children from their early teenage years to their late teenage years.
Working with young adults in this age group can oftentimes be extremely difficult due to the lack of maturity of these kids. Young Life leaders working in the Young Life camp have been given a special ability to be able to understand and respect the emotions of these struggling young adults by finding a way to manipulate their teachings so that they make sense in the eyes of the struggling adolescent. This camp provides high adventure activities as well as incorporating quality speakers who will break down the word of God so that it can be interpreted a little easier and applied even sooner. Young Life provides a facility for kids to be able to escape the reality of the real world, form relationships with not only other people, but God, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Bible fellowships across the world, including Young Life, tend to run on a few similar core values. The main core value that is the most important to live by is the ‘passion for Christ’. Without any form of desire to breakdown and thoroughly study the bible, it would nearly be impossible to live a Godly life. Reading, learning, and applying the commandments stated in the bible is not a simple task that can be accomplished in just a few weeks. This is a task that requires a great amount of patience and practically takes a lifetime to achieve. I have always learned that patience is a virtue which unfortunately few people practice, but it is something that can be taught and gained.
The best way to build up patience is to start with an open mind. People who do not know about the preaching’s of the bible or the events that took place so many years ago are usually quick to judge the people that choose to follow the commandments. These are the type of people that require the most attention in order to change their outlook on a certain lifestyle. It is difficult to reach out to those who have a certain mindset about religion in general, but this is a challenge that we are taught to face without fear. Anyone has the ability to let God’s light shine through them, and as soon as someone has not only the desire to want to live a prosperous life, but the patience to wait on God’s perfect timing, that newly found love for Jesus will fuel the commitment to advance and share the passion for Christ. It is a reoccurring cycle that is being practiced and spread across the world despite all the cultural differences and language barriers. Along with the core value of ‘passion for Christ’, there is another value that could assist in spreading the guidelines for a perfect lifestyle; compassion for people. Compassion is not an emotion that is an innate trait. Just like patience, it is a trait that has to be achieved over time. A person that has compassion is a person that has extreme sympathy towards the misfortunes happening in someone else’s life.
A person with compassion can spot someone else’s weak spot and will do anything in their power to show kindness, empathy, and their willingness to help in whatever way is needed. The mission of Young Life leader, pastor, or bible study group leader is to help others by applying the truth and grace with godly wisdom. My Young life leader displayed his compassion for others as well as myself the second he decided to figure out the struggles going on in my life. He gave me undoubtful evidence that the power God has the ability to control the negative events unfolding before my eyes. His trust and dependence on God was so clear to me that I began to develop a deeper and unfathomable relationship with the Lord. I found it beneficial to surround myself with public servants that fed me consistent biblical nourishment. From that point on, I declared that I would build up the compassion in my heart and ultimately put aside my wants and needs to do my duty to serve God and others. The testimony that is written within the bible is essentially communication between God and mankind. Time after time it has been proven that these scriptures have been inspired by God and are supposed to be accepted, taught, and followed. I have found out the hard way that bumps in the road are a test to see if your faith in God strengthens or deteriorates.
As a person that follows the testimonies of the bible, I have come to the conclusion that consistent bible study has assured me of my salvation. Faith in your relationship with the Lord comes from hearing, and specifically hearing the word of Christ. If you flood your mind with hearing scriptures about faith, you can be certain that these testimonies are ‘counselors’ that will guide you straight along the path of righteousness. Followers and lovers of God’s word find certainty in scripture, and the pleasure that it brings to everyday life. The word of God also gives us crucial warnings of events that will occur in the future. Nobody knows when these events will unfold, and that is why it is important to be prepared at all times. The most valuable offerings of the world are not worth the few hours of happiness when the location of eternal life is on the line. It has been taught that Jesus took on the imperfection human form so that our destructive choices would not forever destroy our eternal destination. Christ shed his own blood so that people who abide by his word have the ability to be forgiven, instead, of forever unforgiven, and cursed to live in infinite torture. Being consistent in flooding your life with information from the bible will provide warnings and consequences for choices that are folly. Although nobody is perfect and are bound to make multiple wrong decisions in life, we are spared when we adhere to the rules laid out in the most important book; the Bible.
Growing up in a family that made going to church a priority and carried out our daily lives like the Lord would want us too is something I am genuinely thankful for. Having a designated day, place, and time to confess all the wrong that has been done provides an overwhelming relief from an individual’s shoulders. Studying the word of God and trying to apply each commandment to my life every day is the most difficult task this world throws at you, but living how God lived, and spreading his word is what some people are called upon to do. Without church, without bible study, and without Young Life targeting the lives of the youth as well as young adults they would be missing out on the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Without the selflessness of pastors, youth leaders, and biblical mentors, helping these kids grow in their faith would have never become a global phenomenon like it is today. There are many people who are lost in this World and have nowhere to turn or nobody to turn too, and those are the people I would like to reach out to in hopes of sharing information that could turn their life around for the better. I believe that is truly a major goal of the Young Life group: to reach out to people of different races, ethnic backgrounds, and cultural backgrounds to spread the word of Christ, to be able to build a lifelong relationship with him, and find that deep desirable love for his word.