Over the past 15 years we have had the privilege of working with various camp, church, and para-church ministries. These experiences have let us see behind the curtain of the lives of many children and young adults. We have witnessed the vast difference between what was once considered minimally acceptable levels of good character and what is demonstrated by many of the young people we have worked with. What were once considered to be basic personal skills and character traits are now considered optional by many young people because they were not trained in these godly principles. When these young people desire to become followers of Christ, the abundant pot holes in the road of spiritual growth unto maturity are difficult to avoid. The more prevalent the stumbling, the more discouragement will develop in the heart and mind of the new believer.
There are some young men and women who have rejected the godly training that was once provided to them by godly parents that were organized and diligent. Many other young people have grown up without the training necessary to develop these basic skills and character traits that assist them in their spiritual development. Sometimes this lack of training is because the parents do not know what to do to execute the kind of training necessary for their children. Sometimes it is because the parents do not bring forth the necessary motivation to help their children receive their training of skills and character when the children resist. Additionally, when a man and a woman come together in marriage, they frequently come from two very different backgrounds with different ideas on how to raise the children God gave them and are never able to overcome their differences in training ideas creating an environment of disunity and confusion. Unfortunately, many parents do not know what God says about raising children and how His plan of redemption is intended to be manifest in and through the workings of their family unit. When disunity exists between dad and mom, no substantive productive training takes place. Sadly, many children are left essentially to raise themselves because of the struggle of the parents.
There are many other contributors to the dilemma many young people face today. Many contemporary young people lack an appreciation for basic respect and honor of their parents, elders and others in authority resulting in rejecting the authority of their Creator. Many latter teens today lack an understanding that they came into this world with foolishness bound up in their hearts which needs to be purged and replaced with godly wisdom and knowledge. Many young adults have little or no appreciation for developing skills necessary for productive life at home or among the community workforce and are virtually unemployable. Many children have experienced an educational system that requires so very little to receive high enough grades to appeal to their self-esteem and appease the system, but does little or nothing to prepare them to study, learn, and become a productive member in society. What we once considered to be common sense is considered by many young people today as irrelevant, if not unnecessary. Their sense of entitlement developed while growing up is now impairing their ability to do much other than continue to look for the next handout from someone, anyone. This makes them very susceptible to the devices of the Devil and his servants in the world. Helping these young people who realize within themselves this is no condition in which to serve and please the Lord Jesus is no small task.
God designed a very personal extended training period during the early years of these young people that was to shape them in the way they should go when they are older. Many children grow up in a home without dad discipling his children by reading and teaching God’s word to his children, without love reigning in the home, without dad and mom having a unified plan to teach their children godly morals and values, personal responsibility, and self-control, much less minimum basic character and proper personal conduct. Because the lines for the God given roles for each parent have become so blurred in practice, there is much unrest in the hearts and minds of young adults much like a person stumbling around in the pitch dark when they are confronted with difficult circumstances. Only biological differences seem evident to their observations due to the cultural role confusion practiced on such a large scale. It is God’s plan to make them male and female, and it is God who designed each of their roles. Who will train them now?
Real help for these young people takes extensive investment and hard work. If we are to help these young people turn their lives around for effective service in the Kingdom of God, we must help them with more than what traditional Bible studies provide once or twice a week for an hour or two each time. These young people have much they need to develop if we are to really help them overcome the enemy of their soul. We believe in, and have witnessed, the success of resident life-on-life discipleship to help young people develop LIFE character qualities.
These impoverished souls need an augmented approach to making the wisdom of God become their own character. In a traditional weekly or bi-weekly Bible study, valuable knowledge is conveyed to those in attendance. But in the minds of those young people that have no appreciation for such knowledge or do not have the skills to process the information and turn it into action, this becomes an exercise in futility. In our resident life-on-life for LIFE discipleship program we teach by example and instruction. While the disciple lives with us, we can demonstrate the principles that are taught in the Scriptures providing the missing pieces for many who desire to follow Christ, but struggle with strength and understanding of how to follow His word in life’s circumstances.
In John 13:34 Jesus told His disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love others as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” The key in this statement is, “as I have loved you.” Jesus had demonstrated for approximately 3 years what the Word of God tells all of us to do. These disciples now had the example they needed to go with the instructions they knew. They had received the training and instruction they needed to succeed over the Devil and his temptations. These disciples spent much time living with Jesus to receive instruction, correction and training in righteousness. After our Lord’s resurrection, the Apostle Paul demonstrates this life-on-life for LIFE style of training with many disciples (Timothy, Titus, Luke, Sosthenes, Tertius, and many others). Barnabas too chose this method with his protege John Mark.
This is the model for our ministry unto the Lord in the lives of the young men that come to us for discipleship training. The added elements of developing practical skills to make the disciples into God loving achievers are a part of the goals of this ministry. We intend for the disciples to develop godly morals and values, personal responsibility and self-control through: learning to appreciate the authority structures the Lord has ordained in their life, demonstrating respect and honor toward all people thus honoring Him, learning basic study skills necessary to acquire the knowledge God wants them to have and the knowledge they need to be employable in society, valuing discipline for building them up in the Lord and unto maturity, developing adequate personal hygiene care, skills for planning and implementing a successful home environment, developing a work ethic that is honoring to the Lord, learning to manage opposite sex friends relationships for the glory of God, budgeting and tracking personal cash flow for managing personal finances entrusted to them by God, ultimately learning to honor God throughout their whole life and with all they possess without perpetually requiring a caretaker to continuously govern their affairs or hold their hand though elementary life activities.
This level of training is necessary when the disciple is as described above. Such disciples are often left unto themselves because of the level of commitment and work needed to help them to repent and become victorious over the schemes of the Devil. When considered, many count the cost of attempting to disciple these young people and discover the investment necessary is too great for them to pursue given all of their other current responsibilities. Others still simply maintain the level of expectations they have for all other disciples and do not differentiate between those who can meet these expectations and those who need more help. We believe God has called us to help. Will you help us help them?
- your prayers for God’s favor and strength
- financial support to build and provide what is necessary to house and feed the disciples until they graduate
- wisdom of ideas
- labor to help us build and train
- your love and compassion to extend a hand in the effort to rescue these young people from the hand of the enemy
Please join with us to make a measurable difference in the lives of those God would send to us. Who knows, maybe you know someone that would benefit from this training. Please encourage them to contact us, or better yet, bring them to us. Let’s work together to help them become victorious over the enemy that has had much too much influence in their lives until now.
Together we can help them develop
L – love of God and others
I – integrity in all thought, speech and action
F – fruitfulness of abiding in Christ
E – excellence in life for the glory of God.
When the young men graduate, they will be ready to reintegrate into their community to continue to learn and grow more fully understanding God’s word and will, prepared to practice godly character in their relationships whether of family, work, or inter-socially, becoming a more and more productive member of the community, and ready to serve the Lord however He calls them.