I love older people. I have fond memories of playing cards with my grandmothers and great aunts growing up. One of my most prized possessions is a Bible that belonged to my Memaw. I even worked at a nursing home during college!
I’ve enjoyed the wisdom and guidance of those who are older than me. I like being with people who are older than me. Yet, I can’t deny the fact that young people, by and large, have jump started the most significant movements of God in Christian history.
- When Count Ludwig Von Zinzendorf was 19, he committed himself to ministry. He started a 24 hour prayer vigil that continued unbroken for 100 years. HIs mission group, the Moravians, sent numerous missionaries as a result of the prayer vigil.
- William Carey, “The Father of the Modern Missionary Movement,” was a cobbler. He was a young adult when he started praying over a world map that hung on the wall above his work table. He became a missionary to India and wrote a book on missions that captured the hearts of many people in his generation.
- The first six mission agencies in North America and the first nationwide student movement in the U.S. came out of a prayer group with 5 students at Williams College in 1806.
- In the 1880’s the “Cambridge Seven,” a group of college students in England, started one of the most effective missions movements in Christian history called the Student Volunteer Movement. Later, John Mott won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the SVM.
- In 1886 about 250 college students gathered in Massachusetts to hear D.L. Moody teach the Bible. One hundred of those students committed their lives to missions. They recruited 100,000 student missionaries over the next forty years.
I could go on and on. In recent history the evidence is so great that Steve Shadrach has gone as far as to say…
“The last 250-plus years of Protestant missions from the West have been spearheaded and sustained primarily by college students.”
In light of the fact that movements are often started by those who are young, two things come to mind…
1. We need one another.
If you fall into the older category, we need your wisdom and insight. You’ve got a lot of experience. We need you to help us avoid unnecessary land mines.
If you fall into the younger category, we need your idealism. You still think you can change the world. We need you to help us dream.
We need one another.
If you’re young, do your best to appreciate those who have gone ahead of you. Be careful to value what they share. It’s painful when you share something that’s important to you and it’s received with indifference.
If you’re older, value those who are young for the dreams they do have. Be careful with those dreams. Their youthful idealism is the best thing about them. It hurts when someone only points out the flaws in your ambitions.
2. Go to the campus.
Where could we experience movements like the ones I mentioned above? The college campus. Today’s university campuses are fertile mission fields.
Movements have started among this demographic in the past. It’s most likely where they’ll start in the future. History points to the college campus as the most strategic place to reignite a movement.[bctt tweet=”History points to the college campus as the most strategic place to reignite a movement.”]
Can you think of any other examples from history of young people who have done extraordinary things? I’d love to hear your thoughts.