The world needs you young people, more than perhaps you even understand. The Worldwide News from July 28, 1980, quoted a lecture Herbert W. Armstrong gave at a Summer Educational Program (sep): “‘You young people are living in a time when you’re going to live in two different worlds. You are going to live past the end of this world of 6,000 years. And there’s a very great responsibility on you because you are one of the few young people of your age, you are a large portion of all of the people in the United States of your age who know the real truth of God.”
“‘But,’ continued the pastor general, ‘there is a responsibility on you because Christ is going to want to use you. You’re going to live into some terrible times that are coming. But on beyond is going to come the finest, most wonderful time that the world has ever known. It’ll be a new and different world.’”
How real is that coming world to you? Do you believe it?
The Aug. 25, 1980, Worldwide News, quotes another sep address from Mr. Armstrong: “One reason you’re here in this camp this summer is to begin to prepare you for things that will become your responsibilities when you’re grown and mature ….”
Turning the hearts of parents and children toward each other is about our future (Malachi 4:4-6). It’s all about the God Family vision; it’s about parents, teens and singles; it’s about the incredible human potential. Too often, we don’t take that seriously enough. The Hebrew word for “heart” in Malachi 4:6 means “feelings” or “will.” It is a way of living, which means education and direction.
In an August 2000 Trumpet article titled “Education Filled With Hope,” editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote, “Education today leaves young people without hope. It might teach them how to earn a living, but it fails to show them how to live. … Our universities have graduated brilliant scientists and engineers—experts in their fields. Meanwhile, nations war against nations, marriages are splitting apart, children are raised without discipline, families are disintegrating.”
Mr. Flurry then quoted what Mr. Armstrong wrote in the Plain Truth, September 1978: “But the living God had caused me to realize the serious need for a college to educate a ministry for His Church and to train other personnel to fill the increasing number of administrative offices. For this purpose it had to be God’s kind of college—utterly unique in the world. No college or theological seminary extant filled this purpose.”
God’s college and summer camps help our young people fight the devil. There is a great need for this education, and it doesn’t just come from textbooks. Every day of your life, you are being educated. The majority didn’t take the benefit; they didn’t see what they needed to see: a future with God.
We all have fun at camp activities, but we need to see the purpose behind them: to develop your character, to help you make the right choices. And God’s law defines our path. God wants how you live to positively impact other people (Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6, 10). God expects our teens to respond to the opportunity that He has given them.
In 1 Corinthians 7:14, we see that young people are set apart—holy. God knows all of you very well. As parents in the Church, we work to fulfill our responsibilities and to help our youth understand their future roles and responsibilities. The Goals and Purposes page in the Philadelphia Youth Camp (pyc) manual states that “these camps are designed to challenge, stimulate and encourage young people in God’s way of life …. [O]ur young people have a marvelous opportunity to learn that God’s way of life really works! … They see the government of God in operation and learn to appreciate its value.” Then it lists three main goals: “1. Teaches and reinforces—by positive experience—that God’s way of life works beautifully and is exciting. 2. Provides a means for our teens and young adults to meet, fellowship and experience activities with those of their own age. 3. Provides our camp workers the opportunity to develop leadership.”
When I was 12 years old, I read the life story of David Livingstone, and I’ve never forgotten it. He hated slavery, fought it with a passion all his life, and died fighting for it—a rare breed of person. You don’t hear much about people like that today. All of us are Dr. Livingstones in that sense. We fight the slavery that imprisons this world.
That is not an easy road to travel. Sometimes in life, there may not be a road because no one has been there before. Do we turn back, or do we pioneer on? If we pioneer on, it builds character; it builds sons of God.
However, from time to time, a few of our teenagers leave the Church because they become self-focused. They deny themselves so much that God wants to give them. God wants teenagers with a spirit of adventure, but we also need direction.
As a teen, I didn’t have God’s Church like you have. When my parents divorced, I still had in me that desire to do something, but I didn’t have the direction that you do. I joined the army and spent six years there, and I had a few adventures. When I was 37, God called me into His Church, and I have been on the greatest adventure anyone could ever be on. He takes you on adventures—spiritual and physical—and He will bring you amazing opportunities if you want them. Our future adventures are in the universe, and they will never stop. We are a royal family—a double-crown people—and we must prepare for that future.
Do you appreciate what you have?
There are millions of teenagers in this world who need you. In Nepal, a child-marriage tradition persists. About 765 million people alive today were married as children. Literacy rates are low, and social media has made it easier to find partners. Do you think they need you? Do you think they need to understand what the missing dimension in sex is all about?
How would you like to live like that—to have no hope? They are chained to hopelessness and illiteracy. They have no freedom, but it will come, and we will bring it to them. They are going to need young people like you. You’ll be able to tell them what life is really about.
Imagine saying, I am illiterate. I have nothing to say about child marriage. Then their children will grow up and repeat the process. Do you want that kind of freedom? That’s the world’s freedom—chained to a culture or an ideology. What’s the solution? Christ’s return is the solution! You’re part of that solution. Very soon, teens just like you—with parents just like yours, with emotions, hopes, desires, dreams—will have hope because we will bring it. You will bring it if you stay the course.
You have many opportunities, but it’s not just for you; it’s for those other teens. Those families in Nepal don’t know any better. You do. The people in the World Tomorrow will want to be taught. They’ll want to know how to read, how to write, how to pray. Psalm 45:16-17 says, “Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth. I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.” They will need you. You have an amazing opportunity—and responsibility.
In Psalm 119:9, we read, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.” The Hebrew word for “young man” in this verse means boy or girl from infancy to adolescence, and the word “cleanse” here means to make your way pure, to be innocent, clean, pure. There are 45,000 homeless teenagers in this country. This world needs you; they need the law of God and the government of God. They need what you have.
It’s not easy to find your way in life, but you have God. You have everything going for you, and you’re without excuse. You can turn away and become part of the 42 million other young people in the U.S., but what will be the outcome?
I have known teenagers who have walked away. Some have called me later and said, If only I had listened. Yet the nightmare is with them. The reality of that world sucked them in and destroyed their morality, their hopes, their dreams, their desires. One day they woke up, and the damage was done. You can’t change it. You can repent of it, but the scars are still there. God is expanding your minds and your future.
Verse 27 says, “Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.” God wants you to understand the way! We are on the greatest adventure ever, and it will never end! We will have adventures and excitement without end!
Verse 33 says, “Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.” This is a way of life here—a future in the stars. All of those people in the world who have nothing need you to take on the responsibilities God has given you. Does it mean anything to you? This is not about the self; this is about giving your whole life for mankind.
God wants you to be part of His Family. That means self-discipline to some extent, doesn’t it? To walk a narrow path means self-discipline, making a commitment in your mind to a purpose. It’s not just about going to Church and keeping the Sabbath, tithing, keeping the holy days. It’s so much more. It’s about eternity with God.
Sometimes parents make mistakes; they’re not perfect. But then again, neither are teenagers. There was only one perfect teenager: Jesus Christ. He gave Himself for us. The world is waiting for us. You can sit there thinking this is all for Mom and Dad, and you don’t have any responsibilities. Oh, yes you do. Would you rather be part of this calling or a child bride in Nepal?
“Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment” (Ecclesiastes 11:9). You can’t say, I’m too young. When God says, I’m sending you on a journey, He’s prepared everything necessary for you to complete it. It’s up to you.
In Ecclesiastes 12:1, we are told to remember God in the days of our youth. “Youth” means “the dawn of life.” Dawn only lasts for a short period of time. Spend your youth wisely. The rest of Ecclesiastes 12 is about the stages of life. I know it’s hard sometimes for young people to think past their present situation, but life comes and goes. You can’t stop that, but you can enjoy it with God.
When I was in the army, someone gave me a great piece of advice: “Corporal Harrison, I’ve got some advice for you: Don’t follow the crowd.” The crowd’s not going the way God is. Anybody can follow the crowd, but to stand alone, to fight for the rights of others and help them, takes true grit. It takes character.
God has given us an amazing mission. If you can see the future He has for you, a future to bring other young people to the position you are in now, you’ll get through (Isaiah 2:2-4). It’s an amazing miracle that God is working with every single one of us. We will teach His ways, so we have to learn them now.
In Isaiah 1:16-17, we read some of God’s commands to the nations to wash themselves and to learn, and then in verse 18 God says, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Reason is the ability to think clearly and connectively, and it is closely connected to faith. It is the power to think logically.
Too many young people think with their emotions. Mark Twain once said, “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Most educational institutions try to teach people what to think, not how to think. Knowledge is only valuable in the hands of someone who knows how to think well. Bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results.
An article titled “Use All Your Thinking Gears” from The Sunday Mail says, “Your brain is far better than you think and what other people’s opinion may suggest. … Your life will go in the direction of your most dominant thought. Think noble, big, connected and inspiring thoughts and you will inch your way towards greatness. You are what you think about all the time. Your thoughts are shaping your life experiences and directing your energy. Energy is too precious a commodity to be wasted. This is why you do not afford the luxury of dwelling on negative thoughts, fruitless dog-fights and baseless ego-battles. Think big and you will see the world opening up to opportunities for growth and development” (Oct. 21, 2018, emphasis added).
Psalm 45:15-16 say, “With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king’s palace. Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.” People are going to say to you, Thank you for being loyal and royal, and our Father in heaven will be so delighted. We are going to go forward and build that family. We are going to bring love and joy and happiness. We are a new civilization already. Will you stay the course? No one’s going to make you. It’s your choice.
Think about those young people in the world who have nothing like you’ve got. Wouldn’t you want them to take the responsibility for you? God has given you the pilot seat. This is our time in history. It all began because you made the decision to help those young people who have so little. I want to be there for them. Live your youth for God, and every day of your life, think that way.