Thursday, July 21, 2011

How Youth Work Is Like The Surrender Of Japan In 1945

AttributionShare Alike Photo contributed by Marion Doss
It was of unbelievable tension and excitement as the assembled dignitaries stared at each other in a surreal disbelief of the events unfolding.  However the ceremony concluded with the signing of the Instruments of Surrender, there was officially peace between the nations of the United States and the Empire of Japan.

However, it took years to for this fact to become reality.

Japanese soldiers that had deployed to fight in the pacific islands were cut off from communications refused to give up the fight.  Many never knew that peace was a reality, others refused to believe the propaganda.

Victory had been declared.

Yet victory had not yet happened.

It makes me wonder… What is victory?

The definition of this word can seem far from the manifestation of it when comes to war and also to work with young people.

Recently I was told on two separate occasions about a hope for more stories of inspiration or victory in the stories I communicate about youth work. 

We want to know that what we are investing in is worth it.  We want to know that our beliefs are not merely pipe dreams.  I have days when I wish for the same thing.  I wish I saw more people fall head over heels in love with God.  I wish that these kids I work with would realize that their choices are leading them toward a life of needless suffering and pain.  I wish they could find peace.  Occasionally this does happen, but it is so rare that I have ceased looking for it lest I become disappointed in God.

Instead of looking for things that I wish God would do, I look for things that he is already doing.  These may seem trite, but these are some of the things that inspire me.

The moment the a kid uses the word Jesus to refer to the person and not an expletive.

The moment the teen decides to keep the baby and not abort it.

The moment the teen moves from defining themselves as an atheist and instead define themselves as apathetic.

The moment the kid says they know they should change, but are not ready to do it just yet.

The moment the young person that says they never want to talk to me again calls me to apologize

The moment I read the text message that states: You know, you are like Yoda in my life.

 In my work I maintain that I have not been called to be successful in the traditional sense of the word. 

I am not trying to make converts. 

I am not trying to achieve victory. 

I am not trying to save anyone. 

I am merely trying to be faithful to the people God has sent me to.  Occasionally I look for opportunities to listen to the life story of an older person.  Someone that has lived a hard life and has found God in the midst of a mid-life crises.  I listen to them tell how they encountered a sliver of truth when they were young but didn’t actually change until they were much older.  My job is to plant seeds – not to harvest the crop.  Some seeds grow.  Some don’t.  But that is something I can’t control nor should I try. 
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