May/June 2011 - Vol. 50

Signs of Hope 

by Michael Shaughnessy

Some of the most significant signs of hope can be seen among the high school age people from Sword of the Spirit communities in North America who attended the 16th Kairos Youth Equipped to Stand (Y.E.S.) Retreat, which was held January 2011.

The youth who attended were surveyed on a number of markers to determine how well they know and live their faith. The markers were related to the three foundations of Christianity as reported in the KYCN May 2010 edition: right belief, right behavior, and being in a living relationship with God. All three are necessary for the full Christian life. How did the youth do? Remarkably well!

Right Belief
Y.E.S. youth hold the Bible to be the inspired Word of God (88%). They also believe the devil exists (97%), and described sin as thinking or doing what you know is wrong –  rather than feeling guilty or getting caught (90%).

Two-thirds of American youth think all religions are pretty much the same. Only 3% of Y.E.S. youth believe they are.

When asked to describe the Incarnation 83% of Y.E.S. youth wrote a reasonably accurate
description. (That's not easy for many Christian adults to do!)

A recent American survey showed that 67% of youth begin serious sexual activity within three months of their first date.

Right Behavior
The battle to uphold chastity among youth can be won far more consistently than is happening at large – 93% of Y.E.S. youth (vs. 28% of all American youth) said they had not had serious sexual contact (oral sex, intercourse, touching another's sexual parts) with another person.

There are probably many reasons for that, but one certainly is teaching youth to wait to date. When asked about lying and handling difficult moral situations, 70% chose objective/traditional bases. The rest cited relativist/post modern bases for determining what they would do.

Relationship with God
When Y.E.S. youth were asked about prayer, 96% claimed to do personal prayer (not including family prayer) every day. If you want a better marker – 61% said they averaged ten minutes or more per day.

These signs of hope are just a few among many. It is possible to raise a new generation of disciples who know their faith, believe it, act according to it, and have a living relationship with the Lord Almighty. If ever the church  needed such disciples it is now.

In the U.S., 25% of girls and 14% of boys have low self-esteem. Among Y.E.S. participants low self esteem are far smaller. Only 7% of the girls and 3% of the boys have low self-esteem.

[Mike Shaughnessy is an elder in The Servants of the Word and the Director of Kairos in North America. Kairos is an international federation of outreaches to high school, university and post university aged people.].

Kairos North American 2011 Winter Conference 

In January, about 400 college students from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Vancouver, Quebec, Minnesota, Ontario, Maryland, and Florida, traveled to the annual Kairos Winter Conference in Columbus, Ohio. The theme this year was For the Praise of His Glory. It was a weekend of worship, teaching, fellowship, encouragement, and fun.

“One of the main highlights for me,” shared Alex, who leads a UCO household at MSU, “was the prayer ministry during the men’s session. I was able to pull together the guys from our house so we could pray as a group. The Lord did something during that time of prayer. There had been a temptation to start coasting in our household life because things were going well, but the Lord gave all of us a renewed zeal for the mission of our household.”

Magz talked about how the Winter Conference was an important final step in her return to God from anger and unbelief. “The Kairos Winter Conference was brilliant—I got to worship the Lord; it was so freeing. I love that I can love the Lord with my whole heart. He has set me free!”

“A highlight for me,” Nicole says, “was Saturday night when Mike Shaughnessy (the NAR Kairos director) told about all the different college outreaches. He showed us a video of the new University Christian Outreach chapter in Alepo, Syria. Victor, from Lebanon, who served in Detroit last year, was in the video. It was great to see.”

“I went to the winter conference with a feeling that I
needed a large change in my spiritual life,” Rob shared. “Over the past semester, I had started to use UCO more as a social club than a Christian community. I still attended the parties, but I was going less and less to the regular meetings. I told people I had too much school work. While this was not completely untrue, I could have found time for a daily prayer time and for UCO prayer meetings.

“The conference made me realize that with God’s help I could make a change and maintain it. My ‘funk’ lifted, and I made a schedule to help me be faithful in my spiritual life. I also decided that I needed to be more charismatic in my worship, something I had never really done and had often made excuses for. I now have hope that I can continue making progress in my life with the Lord.”


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