By: Joyell Nevins, CA
YES! Camp “Youth Excelling Spiritually” is right around the corner, and we are gearing up to help our teens and beyond remember that they are ‘Bonded in Christ.’
This will be the 22nd camp that Christian Family Fellowship has hosted; we have already began working with kids whose parents came to camp when they were teenagers!
So why, out of all the projects that could use our resources, does Christian Family Fellowship invest so much into these young people? It’s not because they ‘are the future,’ so to speak. It’s because they are Godly ministers and sphere-influencers NOW.
Even though the term ‘teenager’ and the industry that caters to them has popped up only recently in human history, God working in that age range has not. Throughout the Bible, some of those who did the greatest things for the Lord were only teenagers.
“…For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV
A King in the Making
That above verse is from God talking to the prophet Samuel, right before He tells him to anoint David as the next king of Israel. Why is that a big deal?
First, David wasn’t even considered in the line-up! God had told Samuel that Samuel would anoint one of Jesse the Bethlemite’s sons. But when Samuel came to Jesse’s house to view the parade of sons, David wasn’t even asked to be there. He was still out tending the sheep.
Second, David didn’t look the part. He was a ‘pretty boy,’ so to speak (the Bible calls him a ruddy youth), not a tough guy or macho man type. When Samuel first physically sees Jesse’s son Eliab, he immediately thinks, “oh, this must be the Lord’s anointed!” Nowhere is it mentioned a similar reaction to seeing David.
Finally, David was the youngest in his father’s household. He was still a teenager, a young whipper-snapper, as Pastor Kevin would say.
Yet this young, ruddy shepherd had such confidence in his God that he defeated a giant and saved a nation. David took down a 9-foot person with a rock and a slingshot – and gave all the credit to God for making it happen.
“David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied…So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.” I Samuel 17:45, 50 NIV
A Nation’s Heroine
Another pretty, young face that was vastly underestimated was Esther, a Jewish no-name teenager who became queen of Persia. That in itself is a story worthy of fiction or a binge-worthy Netflix series.
But what makes her stand out the most isn’t her rags-to-riches saga. It’s the courage and bravery she showed when her people were in danger of annihilation.
Esther was sitting safe in the palace at that point, hiding her Jewish heritage and wearing a crown. But much like Moses centuries before, Esther stood up for her people, proclaiming her Judaism, and dismantled the evil Haman’s plot through a plan only she and God could have worked out.
You can read the whole clever ruse and the fearless stand she took in Esther 3-8.
A Powerful Prophet
But it’s not just royal teens that God works through to achieve the impossible. God came to the prophet Jeremiah in the 13th year of the reign of King Josiah. If you trace the chronology of the kings back, that puts Jeremiah around 16 years old.
Jeremiah thought that his age made him incapable of doing what God called him to do.
“Then said I, Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a youth.” Jeremiah 1:6 NKJV
But Jeremiah was WRONG. God was undeterred by Jeremiah’s lack of experience or years – just as He still is today!
“But the Lord said to me, Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord.” Jeremiah 1:7-8 NKJV
What follows is God touching Jeremiah’s mouth and giving him a commission that would last the rest of Jeremiah’s life. It wasn’t an easy mission, but Jeremiah spoke great truth, survived persecution, and called God’s people back to Him with courage and conviction.
The Youth Keep Coming…
Want more examples? Joseph, who like Esther ended up saving his whole clan, was 17 years old when God started giving him dreams. The apostle Paul’s successor Timothy was just a youth when he began working with Paul.
The physical mother of Jesus, Mary, was freshly betrothed and not too far into double digits when the angel Gabriel appeared to her. She became the first and only woman pregnant with the literal Son of God before she would have been old enough to drive!
Even in today’s culture, teens have been catalysts for legislative and cultural change on a global scale. We at Christian Family Fellowship have also seen them be catalysts for change and saving lights of Jesus right in their homes, schools, and workplaces.
God and Jesus don’t feel that age is a handicap, and neither do we. The holy spirit has no age limit, and we are excited to see what great heart changes and deliverance God brings through these young ones at YES! Camp 2020.