“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
This Sunday the teenagers in our church group are going to learn about the dire circumstances for those caught in Human Trafficking. “Harassed, helpless, sheep without a shepherd”, these words perfectly describe the victims of human trafficking. It’s not a fun topic to discuss (no social problem is) but its an important one and one that requires a response. In the same way Jesus was moved with compassion for the helpless, we as Christians are also called to bring about restoration in His name. There is a wide array of social problems our world faces (the harvest is plenty), human trafficking is just one but for as many problems as there are, it never seems like there are enough people responding (the workers are few).
Perhaps the last people expected to be the workers are teenagers. If you Google the phrase ‘teenagers and…’ you’ll get the following suggestions; ‘teenagers and alcohol’, ‘teenagers and drugs’, ‘teenagers and depression’, ‘teenagers and social media’. It’s a reflection of our culture’s low expectations for adolescents. Society doesn’t expect the teenage years to consist much more of experimenting with drugs or alcohol, posting selfies on Instagram and having an attitude.
Our culture continues its reflection of low expectations for adolescents with constant stories about teenage crimes in the media. But teens can’t be allowed to just blame the media or Google. It’s too easy to play the blame game. Teens might say say things like “my parents don’t believe in me” or “my teachers don’t care what I do”. And although I think it’s probably the exception, some teenagers do legitimately find themselves these situations .Nonetheless, we need to remind them what Google searches say, what the media says, the presences or lack of encouraging adults does not give teens permission to give in to low expectations.
We need to remind them of 1 Timothy 4:12 which says “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.“ And point out that 1 Timothy doesn’t say anything about making sure the adults around you have their act together or that only positive stories about young people are shown in the media (I for one would love to see more but let’s be honest negativity often fuels the news). This verse talks about personal responsibility. “Don’t let anyone..” “Be an example…” these are actions on the part of the young person. We have to remind teens that we may not have control over many of the circumstances in our lives but they we do have control over our response to them.
Proverbs 23:7 says “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.” Henry Ford said it this way, “Whether you think you can or not, you’re right.” We need to help teenagers forget what the world thinks about them because honestly its poisoning their motivation. Instead we must help them realize the same power which caused Jesus to conquer the grave lives in them and they can prove the world wrong at anytime.
When our teens hear the tragic stories of the victims of human trafficking, I fully expect they will be moved with compassion for the helpless and harassed . Right now we are raising money to donate to an organization fighting to end human trafficking but it hasn’t generated much because its kind of putting the cart before the horse. Without having heard our speaker’s presentation they don’t know how bad the situation is. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve raised some money and its wonderful see those committed to stepping up to the plate before the first pitch is even thrown but I look forward to them seeing the crowd and being moved with compassion because I know teenagers, attitude and all, can be some of the best works the Lord has ever sent out into the harvest field.