Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. Proverbs 29:18
I am sitting in a college coffee shop waiting for my next meeting. I have a 16 ounce dark roast and it has my synapses firing on full. I just closed out a weekly meeting with one of our incredible branch directors. The time spent was literally trajectory changing. It hinges on an issue which I hesitate to write about because of the potential for disagreement among the CRF family of friends and supporters. I will, for the part of discretion avoid most of my knee-jerk reactions. What you are reading is my attempt to sift and sort emotion and reason.
Our branches are experiencing epidemic levels of sexual dystopia. I feel this makes sense given the nature of rural ministry. Students in the cacophony of family chaos, a wholesale barrage of freedoms being handed over to students unable to pack their own lunches, much less determine the cause of their live’s fractures, are being asked to set a course for life’s happiness and fulfillment. There are grotesque levels of disillusion, disappointment and hope. We have done a number on our children in these days of allowances. Kids have been handed the keys to a Lamborghini before they have learned to ride a bicycle. They are crashing everywhere and into everything.
Our conversation was about making this season of disforia an opportunity for the wings, ballast and wind currents provided by a relationship with Jesus. How do we counsel such a great number of rudderless students about the destination of faith? How do we speak about the problems candidly without losing the children who need to hear the message, most. How do we avoid the outrage of a majority of people when we claim there is a better way?
While girls, the least affected group, according to a recent dutch study, 3.2 percent recorded as identifying as non-binary or LGBTQ, are more conservative than males (4.6%), our experience in the rural communities we serve in is about one in every seven girls (approx 15%) are dealing with their sexuality. What we are observing in rural America is not a natural or normal phenomenon. It is an outlier. We are on the front lines in rural America.
Too much is at stake to not step up in our call.
In the 1970s a Christian theologian and philosopher, Francis Schaeffer wrote a prediction for the western world. The exhaustive work was called, How Should We Then Live. He spoke regarding the dissolving of a biblical standard which Christians used to believe, “ABSOLUTE.” He wrote regarding a time in the near future (for him) where people claiming to follow Jesus would determine truth based on their feelings, opinions or circumstances. They would follow a Jesus of their own making, down a road of their own choosing, to a destination of their own happiness. Those days have been with us for a while now. He stated this about a believer’s response.
“The ordinary Christian with the Bible in his hand can say that the majority is wrong.
If Christianity is really true, then it involves the whole man, including his intellect and creativeness. Christianity is not just 'dogmatically' true or 'doctrinally' true. Rather, it is true to what is there, true in the whole area of the whole man in all of life.”
Schaeffer was not speaking in judgement or in hatred. He was being prophetic about a world committed to its own ideas. Truth, as God has dictated, in both senses of the word, was for our own benefit. Our response however, has been to throw off the restraints of God’s truth. We have become angry at God for disagreeing with us about any aspect of life.
These are the days this ministry serves.
Earlier today our directors met to discuss our commitment to loving the children God has asked us to love. One of our leaders made the statement, “Sometimes, real love does not feel like real love to our students.”
I am asking for each reader of this letter to commit to prayer, support and involvement in the lives of rural students. There are many big responses to the issues which are demanding our kids to make long term decisions based on momentary emotions and circumstances. Providing for affordable, or for so many of our most needy families, free counseling which may stem from the familial disfunction plaguing our rural communities, is a large-scale response. Praying for better training which allows our volunteers to step more readily equipped into the fray of hopelessness, or simply giving kids with personal and serious questions about the seemingly difficult rules that God has placed on his children have become more critical than ever.
Meanwhile, we continue to love every kid, at whatever level they are. We want to discover creative, instructive and sensitive responses to difficult interpersonal boundary areas which have been discarded by a world bent on destroying an individual’s personal dignity. Our responses are not about getting students to behave the way we want them to. It is instead to demonstrate Jesus gave his all in order to show them a more excellent way.
A friend recently quoted something someone had shared with him. “Whoever wants this next generation most will get them.”
I have a limited number of responses.
I can either complain and rant to no benefit, or I can want this next generation more. Jesus did the latter.