One Thousand Hours

 

One Thousand Hours

I must start with a caveat about the following article. The ideas I am sharing are simply thoughts to be pondered and reflected upon and not a commentary on any specific group or individual. 

I was listening to several podcasts this week while painting some walls in my home office. A few of which mentioned the recruitment of youth and young adults into extremist or terrorist cells, specifically Isis. The ideas and tactics they were sharing were hardly different than that of national gang recruitment. 

A study “Tackling terrorists’ recruitment of youth” by Jessica Trisko Darden delves into and communicates the recruitment systems used by extremist groups.


 The author speaks to the vulnerability that is taken advantage of when recruiting young individuals. These youth have several things in common; Vulnerability, loneliness, and marginalization from their immediate community.  These youth seek connection, community, and above most else, belonging, which they receive through connecting with these terrorist groups. 

The recruiters will often use several people to recruit one young person, which is never communicated and misrepresents that the youth is always connecting with the same person. Often over thousands of hours through chat rooms, calls, and emails. Trust and belonging are built over this time. Slowly and methodically. 

Without going too much further into the specifics of the scenario, I will say this. I have some experience working with youth who were gang involved. These individuals never saw it as a flawed system, not once. They felt more protected, cared for, and connected there than they ever had at home or in the community, which does not say much for their home life or experience within the community. They understood the surface dangers of it; they knew there were risks involved, but what “family” doesn’t have some give and take?

These are all human needs, all things God created us to need! We will all search for these life essentials until we find them.

The introspection came quickly after listening and digging into this idea. I am profoundly challenged by the thought of one thousand hours. This idea, one thousand hours, at its simplest, is the idea that 1000 hours will be spent with any given child or youth to ensure they feel safe, cared for, and protected. This type of intimate time spent then creates an indebted relationship that can quickly be taken advantage of. When was the last time I, or ministries, spent this kind of time connecting with an individual? 

Do we offer these individuals the same things? Do we offer the youth, community, protection, belonging, and judgment-free relationship in a Christ-centered and healthy environment? 

Many of these are rhetorical questions. I genuinely don’t have the answers to them. I know that evaluating how we share God’s love is crucial to reaching people. Understanding what they seek and the places it is found allows us, as Christians, to understand some of what they are going through. 

As we approach each other, understanding our humanity and collective brokenness allows us to connect, listen, and share life without the implications or expectations perpetuated by unhealthy or self-involved relationships—a challenge for all of us, only attainable through a vibrant and earnest relationship with God.

Things I wish I hadn’t Grown Out Of; A Non-Comprehensive Thought

Things I wish I hadn’t Grown Out Of;

A Non-Comprehensive Thought

I am now at the age that would be considered an “adult,” although I must admit I feel like an imposter most days. I find myself yearning for the freedom, naivety, and homecooked meals of childhood. 

After ten years or so of working with children and youth, I have realized there are specific opportunities that we are asked to give up as “adults” that seem to do me more harm than good. Sure, eating cake for dinner isn’t a healthy life choice (trust me, I have tried), but there is a principal there that we can glean hope and peace from! 

As I try to navigate this thing, they call “adulthood,” I am reminded of how Jesus spoke about children. He did not push them aside, ignore, or urge them to “grow up” to become a part of His kingdom. He recognized the importance of their minds, hearts, and simplistic look at faith. 

This is the youthful character trait I find myself chasing these days. In the midst of an overwhelming, and the seemingly unending whirlwind of political, economic, and societal unrest, I desire the simplicity of childhood thought. 

As adults, we assume that a complicated and convoluted response is the only way to approach these BIG issues. We do this often in our faith; we complicate, dissect, and drown in the theological debate of semantics, all without ever reaching an answer. 

My thoughts bring me to a question. “What if we were to reclaim the simplicity of childhood thought?” 

I believe that children approach faith with the fervor, earnestness, and love that I am seeking to emulate, that I once had and had been asked to give up for a more “adult” mind frame. 

I am encouraged by this – We can approach God as children; we can fumble and stutter our way through a conversation with Him. We get to be proud and excited and trusting in His presence. He is our Father, and He loves us. It’s pretty simple. 

Next time you sit down, with the weight of the day resting heavily on your shoulders, think about the simple answer. God loves you, He cares for you, and He works all things out for good. Fight the urge to complicate, solve, and strategize the solution and simply let the Father hold the answers. 

Part Five: Who is Jesus?

The Bible, The Book

Listening: The Other Half of a Conversation