Recently I went to Honduras with a group of our high school students. I have been using my site as a place for them to write about their experience. If you missed the previous three posts in this series be sure to go back and read them. Below is a few thoughts from another student who went on this trip named Lexi Gray.
“Purpose. When our missions trip group went to Honduras, we stayed at a place called La Providencia. La Providencia is an organization that wants to give the orphans and widows the best, not the leftovers. Our team got to be apart of helping these people for the week. I really wanted to go on this trip to build my relationship with God, my team, and the kids in Honduras. God has allowed me to do all three of these things.
Prayer. Prayer played a very important part during the week. Before our team would start on our worksite each day, we would pray. Also after every water break our groups would come together to pray. This taught me that I can pray in any situation at anytime.
Effort. Extra effort was required in order to accomplish what God had already prepared for us to do. Our team gave 110% to everything we did. Also we encouraged one another and stayed positive throughout the highs and lows of the trip. This has shown me that I need to give all of my effort and energy to everything I do because it is all for God. In addition, God has shown me that I need to complain less because this is God’s plan for my life, and he is in control.
Connect. I connected really well with the kids at the VBS we set up. One girl specifically stood out to me, her name was Alma. Alma loved making bracelets with me during the free time at VBS. Also she could speak a lot of English, so it was easier to communicate with her. One time I asked Alma who her best friend was. She said that I was. This showed me how much our group meant to each of these Kids and how much they loved us. Another thing that stood out to me was how happy and grateful these kids were for all the things they had. Several kids would come up to me to say thank you for the VBS. This has helped me to understand how much more thankful I need to be, because these kids do not have much.
Protection. God showed how much he really protects me while I was on this trip. One specific time was when I got extremely sick on the bus ride home from our adventure day. Once I began throwing up, I started to hyperventilate. I can’t move my hands or my feet, and the rest of my body gets tingly. I get stuck breathing in short breaths. But during the whole time God helped me to remember that he is always with me. Also God has given me an amazing brother to be right by my side. I am so thankful for a brother to be there when I need him, and to help calm me down. Also God has blessed me with Crystal McCann to help take care of me and help me know that everything is going to be ok. God has showed me how much he loves me and help me know that he will not give me anymore than I can handle.”
Last week I ran across a very eye opening infograph about sexting on Youth Ministry Media’s blog. I want to share that infograph here on my blog to help inform parents and other youth workers about the popularity of sexting among our teenagers. Sexting is basically using standard text messaging to have sexual conversations as well as sending semi-nude or nude pictures to someone. With popular apps like Snapchat sexting is becoming more popular and easy for our teenagers to engage in. Here are some major things that stand out to me about the infograph on sexting below:
86% of sexters never get caught. Many parents and youth workers may say sexting isn’t a problem with their teens, but if this stat is true than they probably do and you just don’t know about it! Teens that sext usually don’t get caught.
53% of teens that sext are girls. This one blew my mind. Everyone thinks it’s the teen guys who struggle with lust and porn so it would only make sense they are the ones enaging in sexting the most. But it’s the girls who are leading the way in sexting! We must not target only the guys when it comes to this issue. Teen girls are just as, or even more, engaged in it than teen guys.
So what should parents and youth workers do with this information? First, don’t assume your teens are not sexting. Don’t wait until they get caught to have the tough conversations with them. Talk to them about why sexting is wrong and the devastating consequences that can come from engaging in it. Second, protect your teens. Don’t give them a smart phone (or regular phone for that matter) and let them have free reign. Set up boundaries and rules to help protect them from things like sexting. They may not like it at the moment, but as they grow up and walk with Jesus they will be grateful.
What is the main objective in parenting? Is it to protect your kids from the evils of this world or is it to prepare them to live in it? I’ll admit I’m not the most qualified to answer this question because I’m young, newly married, and have no kids of my own, but I have learned a few things along the way that help me answer that question. The main objective is parenting is not protecting your kids. Before you stop reading this and claim “I don’t know what I’m talking about” let me explain.
Take a greenhouse for an example. This illustration comes from Mike Calhoun’s book The Greenhouse Project. In the book, he compares a greenhouse to how we do student ministry, but I want to compare it to parenting because it’s very similar. Mike says, “The basic purpose of a greenhouse is to prepare plants for life outside the greenhouse. Plants are given food, water, sunshine, and heat to grow enough so that they can survive and thrive outside of that environment…The greenhouse is not the end result. It is a place of growth and maturity. It is a place of safety and security. The ultimate objective of a greenhouse is for the plants to make it outside.”
Did you catch that? Plants are prepared in the greenhouse to make it outside and thrive. The whole point of the greenhouse is to prepare them to get out of the greenhouse.
I believe our parenting should be the same way. I’ll even go as far as to say that this model of parenting is Biblical. Your kids will be out of your care and protection one day. They will leave for college, get married, and have a family of their own. They will leave your “greenhouse” whether you like it or not. But here is the good news. You have the opportunity right now to prepare them for that transition out of your “greenhouse.” You have the opportunity to impart God’s Word and the Gospel to them so they are prepared to survive and thrive on their own. Stop just protecting your kids, this will not help them in the future! Do something that will help them, prepare them!
As parents, you are called to love and pursue God personally, then pass that on to your children (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). You are commanded by God to teach them God’s Word and help them follow Jesus. This isn’t simply protection because following Jesus isn’t always safe. When your child tells you God has called them to go into a foreign mission field to spread the Gospel, what will you say? A parent that sees their primary objective to be protection may try to talk them out of it or find a way to make it more “safe.” A parent that sees their primary objective as preparatory will embrace it and be thankful God has chosen their child for such a noble task. There are many examples I could use here, but this is one. Parents must prepare their children to live and function with an authentic faith. This will require you to lose some control as they learn to apply their walk with Jesus to every area of their life.
So what are you doing parents? Are you protecting your kids or preparing them for a live of following Jesus?