There seems to be a re-occurring theme among many young people today that goes like this, “Don’t Underestimate Me.” That has always been a problem every young generation faces. They want to be taken seriously and so they should. “When you grow up” are words many hear but growing up is about being giving the opportunities to do just that. Peter brings perspective to this when he addresses the crowd in Acts when the Holy Spirit fell on the early church.
Acts 2:16-18 “…what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: 17‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. 18In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy.”
It seems clear that the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts had everything to do with young people. They were mentioned as part of the prophetic fulfilling of the Spirit’s coming in power.
Wess Stafford tell this story from his powerful book, Too Small Too Ignore. In Communist Abania, in the 1980’s, there were some radio and TV broadcast signals from outside the country that frequented the airways. A small group of children were playing in an attic and found an old radio and somehow got it to work and picked up a Christian station. One by one they each prayed to accept Jesus as their savior and eventually identified their little club as strictly “No Adults Allowed.” They knew their parents would take away their radio if caught because they could be turned into the authorities getting the whole family into trouble. One day they learned something new about God—that Jesus, the great physician, healed the sick. Looking at each other these kids said, “Well, we know where the sick people are,” so the little band of kids went to the nearby state run hospital and starting at the top floor stood in the doorways and began praying for sick people. “Lord Jesus, please heal him.” Over and over again they did the same on each floor. A commotion ensued behind them as patient after patient came out of their rooms healed with the common story of a little group of kids in their doorways for a moment followed by a healing. Apparently they did not know that they were not old enough to be used of God like this.
Kids and youth have so much to contribute. What often prevents this may be the absence of adults who believe in them. They rise to the level of our expectations. Too often we don’t take young people serious enough. They don’t know enough, and lack life’s experiences. Maybe when they grow older! When is old enough?
Too young? Think again? 1 Tim 4:12 “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”
To God, kids and youth as agents of the Kingdom of God is not a new concept. In the Old and New Testaments we frequently see God using kids and young people to transform their world. At age 12 Jesus said that he must be about His father’s business. Jesus, what are you thinking? You are much too young. David was a young boy when God chose him and began to use him. David was the youngest of 8 brothers, so his father did not even consider him when Samuel came seeking God’s choice for the future King of Israel.
Isn’t it amazing that we have a Music Hall of Fame, NFL Hall of Fame, and a Baseball Hall of Fame, but not one for kids. Actually God does have a Kids Hall of Fame and it is all over the Bible. Here are just a few.
- Naaman – Story of an army commander who suffered from leprosy. A young Israelite girl who served Naaman’s wife told her mistress about Elisha, a prophet of God whom she believe could heal him. The wife followed the young girl’s suggestion, so Naaman went to Elisha and was miraculously cured. Naaman experienced a spiritual revelation through all this saying, “Behold I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel.”
- Samuel – was the child through whom God delivered a needful but difficult message to the high priest Eli.
- Josiah – was a boy-king though who was merely eight years old when he began his rule. He later made dramatic religious and social reforms as a teenager and young man.
- Esther — was an orphan probably in her teens, who became a queen whom God used to save the Jewish people from annihilation by challenging the King’s (her husband) edict to have them destroyed. She risked her life to intercede for her people, saving a nation from extinction.
- Mary – God entrusted a teenage girl to birth and raise the savior of the world. Are you kidding me?
- Daniel — and his three teenage friends demonstrated amazing courage and faith standing against the tide of idolatry and pagan worship in Babylon. They ended up gaining the favor and respect of the most powerful leaders of that day which laid the foundation for Israel’s return home.
Then there’s Patricia, a 12 yr old living in a very dangerous slum in the Philippines who began a weekly Bible Study for the 5-10 year olds in her neighborhood. Her explanation when asked why she did this? “I don’t want them to grow up to be criminals, but to know about Jesus.”
Hannah is a beautiful 13 year old girl who wanted her voice to be heard so she submitted what turned out to be an award winning essay to commemorate this past Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Her essay spoke about being an African-American girl in her predominantly white school and community as well as her thoughts on MLK, America, and freedom. She was very thoughtful and courageous in her presentation. She was then asked to read her essay in front of a full house at Colorado State University with city mayors, professors, state senators and other dignitaries in attendance. I had her share her essay at church a few Sundays ago during a talk entitled, ‘Looking For a Courageous Generation.’
(You can watch her talk here. It is quite amazing and inspiring!)
So, God is still using young people in powerful ways in our world today! Just think of a generation awakened, empowered, and released in their God-ordained calling. Let’s join together in rescuing, reaching, rooting and releasing a generation to change the world. Be a hero, invest in the life of a kid. Look around, they are everywhere! What young person has God put in your path? Maybe Wess Stafford, President of Compassion International has it right when he says, “When God had something really important to do, something he couldn’t entrust to adults, he used children instead.”