Fear

Trigger warning: this article discusses the 9/11 tragedy. Please do not read further if it could exacerbate any pre-existing trauma. On September 11, 2001, I was working for Boston Public Schools (BPS), and our central office was at the heart of the downtown area. My job was to coordinate the district’s afterschool programs, among other tasks. When the four planes crashed, taking the Twin Towers and part of the Pentagon with them, a new kind of fear gripped my heart. It felt like reality was unraveling, because the unthinkable was happening. My wife is from New York, and we had close family who worked in the area — family we could not reach. Also, there were rumors that another plane was headed to Boston with a mission to hit a... Read the article

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In Their Own Language

To communicate God’s love effectively, it’s vital to know the language of the generation we are striving to reach. What questions do they need answered? In June, we celebrate Pentecost, a day when we remember the public launch of the church. The church began in a way that signaled that all people were invited into the fellowship of believers. When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now... Read the article

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Intimidating Encounters

It can be intimidating working with young people. Here are some tips to keep you focused on them. While I was in college, my work-study job was at the South Boston (the locals call it Southie) Boys and Girls Club, and it was my pleasure to work there for four years. My first day was a “baptism by fire.” I was placed in the gym with my co-worker Craig and about 50 eight and nine-year old kids. While I was trying to find my way among the chaos, a kid walked up and stood right in front of me. He was just shy of four feet tall, skinny as a rail, with a Boston Bruins baseball hat pulled down so far he had to crane his neck back to look at me. He said, “Who are you?” I said, “I’m Dishon. Who are you?” “I’m Michael. You... Read the article

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The God of the Open Tomb

Telling our youth about God’s willingness to bend reality for us gives them a taste of how good and glorious our God is. When I was the director of New Heights Summer Camp, it seemed like we got a significant rainstorm every year. The storms were rarely dangerous — more inconvenient than anything else. Once every decade or so a major storm would hit the area and cause flooding. Those larger storms were not to be taken lightly because they were far more disruptive and potentially dangerous. One summer, we got several alerts that one of those big storms was headed our way. It was only the second or third day of our seven-day camp, and I was concerned about the impact of the thunderstorm. Looking at the size of the storm and the... Read the article

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Never Alone

When I was younger, I was an athlete and pretty cocky. In my sophomore year in high school, I played on the junior varsity basketball team (JV) and was a substitute on the varsity team. I was not humble and had little respect for my JV coach. In my mind, I was already on the varsity team and my JV coach did not have much to teach me. As a point guard, part of my job was to pass the ball to create opportunities for my teammates, but I was far more oriented towards making plays on my own. During one practice, my JV coach, trying to get me to pass more, said, “Dishon, there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team!’” I waited until he turned his head, and said just loud enough for him to hear, “But, there is a ‘me’!” I ran a lot of laps that... Read the article

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Embracing Diversity

In the United States, February is designated as Black History Month. It is a time to remember the experiences and celebrate the contributions of Black people in America. The month-long observance was pioneered by Carter G. Woodson, who instituted Negro History Week in 1926. Educators at Kent State University are credited with first observing a month-long celebration in 1969, and other educational institutions adopted the practice in subsequent years. President Ford recognized Black History Month in 1976, stating the all Americans should “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” For many, acknowledging and celebrating Black History... Read the article

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Imitating Incarnation

When Jesus “moved into the neighborhood,” he set an example for us in how to effectively work with others. We recently celebrated the Advent season and gave special attention to Christ’s first coming, second coming, and continual presence with us. Following Advent, we celebrated Christmas – the incarnation – when the Son of God entered our world and became the Son of man. He became one of us. For those striving to disciple young people, it is good to take a new look at John 1:14 and note how Eugene Peterson interpreted the verse. It gives us a good point to focus on as we strive to follow Jesus’ example. The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind... Read the article

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Examining the Walls

Do you know the social, emotional, physical, and spiritual condition of young people in your community? Nehemiah had a BIG challenge. Jerusalem, the religious center for the Jewish people, was in ruin, and God put it on Nehemiah’s heart to rebuild the Holy City. After a period of mourning, lament, and prayer (Nehemiah 1:1-11), he petitioned the Assyrian King, emperor of the region and conqueror of Israel, to lead an expedition to rebuild Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1-10). When Nehemiah arrived at Jerusalem, what did he do to begin his monumental task? Did he start calling contractors to get quotes for the work? Did he gather the leaders in Jerusalem and show them his blueprints? Did he call the insurance company to see if the walls were... Read the article

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Who Do You Say That They Are?

We should not label children (or anyone) based on a snapshot of their life. Rather, we should remind them of their true identity in Christ. For two years, I served as the director of the Boston ArtScience Prize, a project-based innovation program for high school students that helped them turn their ideas into reality. We served hundreds of young people from seemingly every walk of life at Cloud Place, a modern artist studio/scientist laboratory stocked with the latest creative tools and equipment. In the ten-year history of Cloud Place and the ArtScience Prize, there was never a physical fight. Those who care for high school students understand the significance of that statement. When talking with a group of educators and youth workers, I... Read the article

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Tell the Story…

...but remember that each Bible story centers around Jesus. Think of the story of Noah’s Ark. What comes to mind? Maybe you thought about animals marching to the ark two by two and seven by seven. Perhaps you thought about the rain that fell for over a month. Or, maybe you imagined a dove with a branch in its mouth. Did you think about how the story of Noah’s Ark connects to Christ’s redemptive work? Most people familiar with the story do not, and I think the cause of this can be found in how we were taught. In admonishing a group of Jewish leaders, Jesus explained: You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come... Read the article

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