After the first few months of being in Arizona, I’ve made it a priority to ask a lot of questions. When people ask about my vision for the youth of Arizona, I honestly tell them that I don’t know. This early on, it would be ignorant for me to believe I have all the answers or should ever expect that I will.
Not having a clear vision will not hinder me from seeking God and addressing the burdens He’s compelled me with. I am keeping my ear to the ground, listening to each conversation with a sensitivity to what the Holy Spirit is speaking.
I’m encouraged by the quality our leaders, leaving each conversation thankful that we have leaders who sincerely care about their students and desire to honor God. When God works, He operates in unity. God is already working and stirring hearts of students in the presence of God. I’ve seen a thirst for revival in the Church and a much-needed awakening of this generation.
With much opportunity comes much opposition. My heart breaks for three key issues in the Arizona youth culture, but I offer three focused prayers that I’m inviting those reading this to pray with me. I’m careful to note that before I share my concerns, I’m not writing out of fear, but a conviction in my spirit of what I feel God is showing me. I write in broad generalities within our district and not to any specific leader or church in mind. I’m writing with the understanding that what disheartens us today can become tomorrow’s greatest opportunity. God is building His Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18 paraphrased)
1. This generation is biblically illiterate.
A recent study showed that Phoenix was the 8th-worst “Bible-minded” city in the country, and only 17 percent of residents know their Bible well. A seasoned theology professor at one of our Assemblies of God universities said he’s concerned each year by the biblical ignorance of incoming freshmen. We’re living in a day when God’s Word is unfamiliar, much like that before the reign of Saul. 1 Samuel 3:1b “And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.” When God spoke to Samuel, as a young man, it was Eli that taught him God’s voice. We need more Eli’s in Arizona. Despite his weakness as a leader, God used Eli to point a young man in a direction that would change the course of history. I pray for leaders who commit to preach God’s Word and live it out with integrity.
2. Satan has the largest youth ministry.
I’m reminded of Jesus in Matthew 9, when He sees the crowds. His heart is filled with compassion, seeing they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus says to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few, therefore, pray for to the Lord of the harvest, for Him to send out workers to the harvest field.” (v. 38) Today, Assemblies of God churches have 25% paid youth leaders, 50% volunteer youth leaders, and 25% have no youth leaders at all. Is it fair to say we need to raise up more leaders? Please pray with me for God to send more workers.
3. We’re running out of time.
Though we do not know the hour of Christ’s return, we know creation and culture is revealing signs of the end times. Jesus is coming back for His Church, and we must have a sense of urgency and passion for the mission of seeing lost people saved. Our prayer should model that of Paul in Romans 10:1, “My heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” It is God’s will that none should perish, but people perish every day without hearing the gospel message of Christ’s love and plan for salvation.
We are stronger together as the body of Christ to accomplish His mission. If we are to see revival happen in our churches and communities, then we must commit to serve together. You will hear me say my life calling more than once, but I’m compelled with a vision to activate disciples. I desire to serve the youth leaders of Arizona so that we can continue to build upon the rich legacy we have. This is why I’m passionate about Fine Arts: helping students discover, develop, and deploy their ministry gifts. This is why I’m passionate about camp and convention: giving students opportunities to encounter their Heavenly Father with friends. And this is why I’m passionate about giving to Speed the Light and sending students on AIM trips: challenging students to impact eternity by serving the heart of God in His global mission. This is a cause-driven generation, and we need to equip them with the cause of Christ, raising up the next generation of missionaries.
I believe in transparent, authentic leadership. I hesitated sharing this at first, but I feel in my heart I need to be transparent with what Bethany and I are giving to Speed the Light this year. We feel compelled by God to step out in faith as we challenge and encourage you and your students to give generously and sacrificially to Speed the Light. I say this with humility and faith that we pledge to personally give $10,000 in 2013 to get the gospel where it needs to go through Speed the Light. This will not be easy for us, but we believe in what God is doing through our missionaries and we are excited to celebrate in offering our fish and loaves to the King and watch in awe as He works wonders in our midst. He is faithful every time.
We’re praying and believing God for creative ideas and divine obedience. We felt God wants us to set an ambitious goal of $300,000 as a district in 2013. Our missionaries need the youth of Arizona to rise to the challenge and believe God for big things. I believe, with God’s help, we will equip our missionaries to preach the Gospel to a lost and hurting world.
Will you pray with me and join this challenge to equip our missionaries whom God’s entrusted to us?
Romans 10:14-15 “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news.'”