No One is Expendable

throw-away

At a summer youth event for the organization that I serve, I was talking with a guest speaker who was visiting us from out of state. He remarked about our diversity of leaders and how the mutual respect among us was obvious. He remarked about how some of our key leaders did not fit the typical mold of our denomination. Specifically, he said, “You guys come from different nationalities and cultures. You speak different languages. You have leaders that are all inked and pierced up. How do you get everyone to accept each other so well?” I gave a pretty straight answer: “We’re not big enough to eliminate people because they are different from us.”

His reaction surprised me. He said, “We aren’t either; we just don’t know it.”

I most certainly did not mean by this answer that we have low standards for leaders or that we will let anyone lead. I simply meant that we are a relatively small organization and if we eliminate leaders because they don’t look or dress or act like me, we will cease to exist. People are not expendable. One definition of expendable is: Considered to be not worth keeping or maintaining (dictionary.com). We can’t throw people away. We need every qualified leader we can get. Our leaders are very qualified. They love Jesus with all their hearts and live exemplary lives. They happen to not fit the mold that some people have established.

Our guest finished the conversation by saying, “Some of your best leaders wouldn’t get the time of day in the state where I serve. We have some things to learn.”

We may raise a few eyebrows and be accused of being desperate. That’s ok – we are desperate – to see young lives changed. We are willing to do whatever it takes to see that happen.

Turns Out there is Hope After All

hope

It is July 4th week and there is a lot of talk about trouble in America. Many people are lamenting the spiritual condition of our country and some are even saying there is no hope for America.

After this week, I beg to differ.

We just finished a week of summer camp for teenagers. As I reflect on the experiences of the week, I have a renewed sense of hope and positivity. Here is why:

I met some young, dynamic spiritual leaders who are willing to sacrifice an easier life in order to serve as a positive influence in the lives of others. Leaders like E.J. Mirelez and Perseus and Lorena Gross (Confess and Be Free) and Israel and Erin Noboa care enough about today’s teenagers and tomorrow’s leaders that they give of themselves in unbelievable ways. They exude hope.

I watched adult local leaders, pastors, youth pastors and youth leaders serve the kids of their churches and communities. They did without sleep, they gave personal finances, they put up with nonsense – all because they believe in their kids. They are reason for hope.

I watched some pretty troubled kids be transformed. Many of the teenagers at camp come from very difficult backgrounds. Many of these kids do not have positive role models at home. Some are neglected and abused.  Some of them have little exposure to hope. But once they saw it in action, they embraced it! They are hope!

There is hope for the world! The future can be bright. We cannot give up on the possibility of our country and world turning to Christ. This week showed me that when true hope is offered, it is received.

Maybe instead of spending our time lamenting about how bad things are, we should get busy sharing hope. It works!