Every year thousands of middle and high school students head to the N.C. Baptist Assembly on Oak Island where they participate in youth weeks, which is a weeklong program that includes Bible study, worship, church group devotions, fun and fellowship.
Merrie Johnson is our Convention staff member whose responsibilities with youth ministry include oversight of youth weeks. Merrie’s dedication to helping students learn more about Jesus is a blessing to North Carolina Baptist churches. If you are not familiar with the opportunities available to your church through our youth ministry, I encourage you to visit bedotell.com.
Last year, eight youth weeks were held on Oak Island and one week was held at Mars Hill College. About 7,000 students attended throughout the nine weeks.
Year after year, the lives of teenagers across this state are being changed as a result of God speaking to their hearts during youth weeks. Last year, about 500 students prayed to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior at youth weeks, and about 200 students answered God’s call on their life to full-time vocational ministry. When students come to Caswell they hear the gospel and it is changing lives. Thank you for supporting the Cooperative Program, because it is through your faithful giving that such ministries are possible.
As much as I am encouraged by these results, I know that the need to reach and disciple students is so great that we must still do even more. Fewer than four percent of the teenagers in North Carolina have a personal relationship with Jesus. Among teenagers throughout the United States, only 1 out of 10 has a relationship with Jesus, and 9 out of 10 churchgoing teenagers drop out of church by the time they graduate college.
Merrie made a statement earlier this year during the statewide evangelism conference that is important for every North Carolina Baptist to hear. She said, “We haven’t offered enough of the truth that it makes a difference in how they live. One transformed life can multiply to thousands. We have to disciple them.”
Students are hungry for truth and they want to make a difference in this world. It is up to us as leaders to invest in their lives and to model for them a life lived for God’s glory. Please begin praying for the students who will attend summer youth weeks. Pray for the students who do not know Christ. Perhaps they are going to youth weeks because a friend invited them, or maybe they have grown up in church but have never trusted in Jesus as their personal Savior. Please, pray that this will be the time when they give their life to Christ. Pray for the students who are believers, that this summer their faith and their resolve to live for Jesus will be strengthened.
“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12