What do the first two months of serving as LFL’s new director of Y4Life look like?
I think I can answer that in one word: Busy!
In addition to participating in a week of on-site training and participating in two conferences designed for adults this past summer, I have had the privilege of attending, exhibiting, and, in two cases, presenting at three different youth conventions on behalf of Lutherans For Life. The first youth convention, FLY (Free Lutheran Youth), was sponsored by the Association of Free Lutheran Churches. Set in Estes Park, Colorado, attendees couldn’t help but be awed and inspired by the grandeur of God’s creation. Throughout the week, over 2,000 participants, most of them youth, focused on the great “I AM” and rejoiced in a God Who is their Vine, their Bread of Life, and their Good Shepherd. Youth were fed the faith and left this sanctuary in Colorado inspired to share what they had learned with others.
Less than two weeks later, I found myself in Minnesota at NYG (National Youth Gathering), an assembly of over 20,000 Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod youth who were ready to learn, serve, and witness to the world. The people of Minneapolis noticed the influx of youth in their city, and they wanted to know who all these friendly young people wearing purple backpacks were and what they stood for. LCMS youth energetically shared that message as they learned about their “Real. Present. God.” Who is both their “refuge and strength” (Psalm 46:1).
And as I write this article at the end of July, I am preparing for one final opportunity to share the message of life at a youth conference this summer, this time on the sunny shores of California. At Concordia University Irvine, youth from across the United States will attend an LCMS Higher Things gathering where they will “Dare to be Lutheran”; they’ll rejoice in the concord of the church’s confession and be led to recognize that this unity only comes through Christ, the Word made flesh. And they’ll leave with the promise that despite cultural change, “the word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1:25 NIV).
With such a full summer, I should be tired, maybe even a little weary. But the truth is … I can’t wait for more!
Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV) says, “[T]he joy of the Lord is your strength.” It’s a verse I’ve reflected on many times in my ministry and especially these last two months, for it has perfectly described both my first summer as director of Y4Life and the interactions I’ve had with youth themselves! From their participation during my presentations to our conversations in the exhibit hall, I have been awed by the faith and enthusiasm of Lutheran youth.
It’s clear that the Holy Spirit is at work. Lutheran youth are faithful, and their faith has influenced both their minds and their hearts, making them enthusiastic supporters of life. As students stopped by our booth, they often shared why they were for life. They held babies and asked, “How could this life be put to death?” And they wanted to know what they could do to share the message. The few who weren’t sure where they stood on life issues were at least open to the conversation. Yes, the Holy Spirit was at work. Not only did most of the youth I talked to clearly recognize that God made life, but they also understood that all life is important because it has been redeemed by Christ. The Lutheran youth of today fill me with much joy and much hope.
At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that one word could easily describe my summer: Busy. But the truth is, there’s an even better word I could use to describe my summer, a word that also describes our Lutheran church, our youth, and the future of life ministries like Lutherans For Life as a whole: Blessed!