December 2006 - Vol. 3

Uniting the Youth Work of the Sword of the Spirit

by Mike Shaughnessy

Who do you work for? This is not an uncommon question for some people to hear, like Mike Kramer, the Mission Trips Director for the Regional Youth Program in North America or David Mijares, the Regional Youth Program Director for the Sword of the Spirit in the Ibero-American Region. The answer, as you can guess, has been a mouthful! It won’t be any longer. The youth programs of the Sword of the Spirit are uniting behind a new name: kairos.

Maybe you are more familiar with another form of multiplicity of names. Christian Youth Challenge has been the name of the regional youth program in North America. If you speak English, it is easy to understand. Juventud de Christo en Mission, its equivalent in Latin America, may not be quite as easy. In Europe and the Middle East our work was simply called the Regional Youth Programme, unless of course you were speaking Arabic, Polish or German. But now the youth programs of the Sword of the Spirit are uniting behind one name that will be instantly recognizable in all languages: kairos.

Possibly as important will be the use of a common logo. Recently the Sword of the Spirit adopted an international logo. Now the youth work of the Sword of the Spirit – there’s that mouthful again – will make use the same logo, with its new name kairos, all over the world, thus connecting our youth work with our community of communities.

Attend Le Weekend in Europe or the YES retreat in Michigan or an MCU conference in Costa Rica and you will be attending a youth event of the Sword of the Spirit - a kairos event. Now you can expect to see a T-shirt that makes sense to any young person in the Sword of the Spirit whether fourteen or twenty-five, whether Lebanese or Filipino or Canadian. More and more of our youth are involved in programs or events in regions of the Sword of the Spirit other than their own, whether Standing in the Gap, attending the North American Winter Conference for university students, or serving at Die Konferenz in Germany. There are thousands of youth involved in our work the Sword of the Spirit, but they have lacked a common identity, a common name or a common logo – until now.

Why kairos? The Regional Youth Program Directors – David Mijares (Ibero America), Jamie Treadwell (Europe and the Middle East), Mike Shaughnessy (North America), Raoul Roncal (Asia), and Dave Quintana (The International Director) thought the common name needed to work in any language but also should reflect a key aspect of the work.

Kairos  <καιρος> is a Greek word meaning the “right or opportune moment”. Aristotle taught that in rhetoric kairos was the time when the proof would be delivered. In the New Testament kairos means “the appointed time in the purpose of God.” It is the time when God acts and man must respond. When Peter was preaching at Pentecost the hearers were cut to the heart and asked, “What must we do?” This was their kairos moment. Similarly, when Esther was concerned about going before the king, she was asked by Mordecai her uncle, “Is it possible you have come to this kingdom for such a time as this?” God presents key life decisions to our youth that affect their destiny. It is a time in which they can decide to give “all my life for the rest of my life.”

Paul writes in II Corinthians 6:2, “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Kairos is also a special season, an age, when God’s grace is available. Certainly we are in a particular season of grace right now: the season of grace between the Resurrection and the Second Coming, the season of grace inaugurated by the new Pentecost of the last century, the season of grace in which God is raising up the Sword of the Spirit, and this special season of grace for our youth work.

 It's time. It's kairos.

[Mike Shaughnessy is the Director of Kairos in North America (formerly known as the Director of the North American Regional Youth Program of the Sword of the Spirit)]

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