So you think they’re just rowdy kids?


Steam rose from the ground around Lufkin as sweat dripped off a multitude of blistering foreheads and onto the baking surface.  It was in the 90s and the humidity was as thick as porridge.  

Yet, as the result of a week’s back-breaking labor, endure in such harsh elements, twenty greatly neglected homes were rendered much more livable and hope was returned to the desperately downtrodden residents of these East Texas domiciles, along with their appreciative family members.

You can say what you like about today’s teenagers.  But, the 100 young men and women serving a summertime mission titled United Methodist Action Reach-out Mission by Youth (UMARMY) were not only ‘willing’ to commit their free time and energy to make the lives of those less fortunate a lot more bearable, but they were extremely ‘eager’ to do so.  After five trying days, they emerged as rock-solid young  “leaders”, ready to tackle the problems of this world.  Simply hanging in there with these adults-in-training restored my confidence in a bright future for America.   

This describes their day jobs.  Their evenings were equally split between eating (i.e., each averaging about 12 lbs. of grub/day), worship and play.  All of which every bone-weary soul enthusiastically embraced.

Just a week before, the First United Methodist Church of Bay City played host to a similarly-staged group from North Texas which upgraded homes of economically-disadvantaged folks here locally.  This follows UMC’s carefully-considered plan to have youthful swat teams come into towns, which are an appreciable distance away from their hometown, to serve as the hands and feet of Christ.  

In viewing the big picture, I am aware of many other assemblies of youth enthusiastically delivering love and hope, in large portions, to those in our midst suffering economically, environmentally and/or socially.  I only reported on the UMARMY endeavors because, I was there to witness the mighty strength and commitment of these kids and provide them whatever help my ancient carcass would allow.

There are countless teens from other denominations or worship traditions, schools, scout programs or under the sponsorship of serve organizations stepping out of their respective comfort zones to make it things better for others and, in doing so, strengthen their personal character.

In my humble opinion, it is upon these young folks that the spotlight should be sharply focused.  They should be the ones we routinely see each evening on the TV news or read about in our daily newspapers or magazines.  I would even suggest that the names of those bent on heaping unbearable pain and misery on humankind (and often themselves) should never, ever be publicly uttered and thus deny them their 15 minutes of fame (or, more accurately, shame).

If we adults want to see healing in this world then we might start by “tangibly” supporting these inspiring young people in successfully fulfilling their chosen missions (aka ‘solemn projects and promises’).  So, obviously, there exists an exceptional opportunity for us older guys and gals to get out of our comfy little boxes and give back for all the undeserved blessings we have received simply because someone chose to show us some needed care and concern as clueless teenagers?  If this is you, then pick a local youth initiative and prepare to be showered with fun, fellowship and inexplicable joy!

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