Sorry I've been away for so long. I'm not usually comfortable with taking an extended break from writing, but there have been some interesting things happening out here at our Summer Facility called KIVU.
Since the last time I wrote about our Jordanian friends, we've hosted teenagers from Saudi Arabia, Spain, France, Canda, and all over America. It's been quite a journey!! I often call my summer work "The Laboratory," as I have a bird's eye view of all things related to Teenagers. And this year, WOW!!, I've learned so much. You'd think after 15 years of doing this I would have it all dialed in just right, but every summer I learn more and more.
1. I've learned a new counseling term called F.O.M.O. or The Fear Of Missing Out. I've watched students come to our summer camp filled with the need to know who's texting them, who's left the latest facebook message, and how many people are talking about the newest YouTube Video.
It's AMAZING to watch when we have students fast from technology to see the stress literally melt from their bodies. I've worked to develop a process where we can help kids take two weeks to relax and ask quesitons about who they are, where they're going, and what their life purpose is, without the noise from the technology world. As youth leaders we need to be vigilant to help students live in the world of technology and in the world of human relationships at the same time.
2. I encountered more "pain" than I've seen in a while. From the pain of addiction to the loneliness plague that's overshadowing much of the new generation of "First Globals," there's a need for students to connect at a deeper level of friendship than they are getting in our world. They need to be heard. They need to be encouraged in their own giftedness. They need to have a safe place where they can explore their spiritual development. (one of the longest conversations we had all summer was the traditional way of doing youth work where they continue to 're-commit' their lives to faith without seeing any tangible results.)
3. Which brings me to the most important lessons I learned. When we have the opportunity to question faith, life, friends, and future inside of a space where students can grow in their own understanding of the world, something interesting shows up.
We introduced special evenings where our friends from far off places had opportunities to share how they live. It was eye opening for American kids to witness the intelligence, the fortitude, and the daily grind some of the others around the world endure. Everything from economy to academics, the teenage life around the world certainly has some things in common, but for most of us the other places are so far off, they don't have an understanding. It was a beautiful exchange, and there are friends now who will continue to know one another at a deeper level than before they came.
One of our foreign students stood up at the evening program and said, 'I've heard a lot about Jesus. I've even studied Jesus. But I've never seen Jesus until I met you all. You love well. You are so encouraging. No matter what I share, you take me in and call me friend."
And all of the sudden the paradigm of re-imagining the Christian Worldivew came into focus.
I've learned that we spend an awful lot of time trying to study the academics of Jesus. We toil through the theology and look for those new exciting places where Jesus can speak to our lives today. But how often do we have the chance to just live like Jesus called us to live. To love our enemy. To give generously of our own time. To listen and allow our spiritual selves to be explored and given time to grow. I just don't know if that's ever been accomplished in a traditional classroom setting, at least in my world.
So as I look back on the summer time out here in Colorado, my take away is that God is much bigger than we can even imagine. His continued operation in the world today is in a much larger box than I've even given Him in my own understanding. My hope is, from here, I can continue to write about, speak about, and provide opportunities for people to come into a real picture of a Jesus beyond the academic world.
If you want to see a clear picture of what we're doing out here, check out this 8 min. video where we've tried to tell the story well.