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I Like Her; She Doesn't Know I Exist
Insight columnist Shayna Bailey deals with the cla...
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i feel like girls bash males too much and most times after their experience with other guys they tend to think that all are the same. what you think is lacking there?
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Meet the Team
Who are you?I love God and I love young people. If I have a mantra for who I am. I'm a child of the king. I play that back to myself when I question who I am. I also run a ministry called Involve Youth, which works to plug teens into the life of the church.
What are you most proud of in your life?Consistency and adventure. They're often opposites.
Since 1993 you've coordinated the Ultimate Workout for Insight and Maranatha Volunteers International. What's the scoop?I know of no single activity that promotes spiritual growth in young people as much as the Ultimate Workout. Compared to other conventions, mission trips, or Sabbath school, there's nothing as potent as going on UW. And then for me, on a UW trip, I find myself depending on God in greater measure than in any other part of life. Most times I'm self-controlled, but on UW it's so out of control I have to depend on God--and I relish it.
What's an “only on the Ultimate Workout” moment? In Panama we had a site named Bongo Abajo, an “off the grid,“ “back to nature” site. We knew it would be a tough site, and it got off to a crazy start. A bus dropped the group off on the side of the road, and they had a 5-kilometer hike in to get to their site. So far so good--except it's 11 p.m. and absolutely pouring rain as they start hiking. I was driving an SUV filled with luggage, driving as many bags to the site at a time as I can, and when I came back after dropping some off, the teens are singing as they're walking. By the time I'd dropped off all the luggage and they'd hiked through the mud all the way in, it was 1 a.m. in the morning, and they were (finally) having supper. I came back around 8 in the morning to wake them up and get them going, and they were already working on the jobsite. No matter how ultimate it is, young people just chow on it and grow from it..
What were your biggest concerns or questions as a teen? Spiritually, I wrestled with the whole question of assurance of salvation. I felt like I was in and out and in and out--how could I know I was saved and stay that way? And God's plan for my life--how could I figure it out?
What people shaped you growing up?My parents were key people, and my Bible teacher in academy. At church I had a youth pastor who wasn't very effective, but strangely that turned out to be a good thing because we teens took over the program and ran it. We didn't think that this was a bad thing, we just saw the need and jumped on it. There must have been a number of adults wringing their hands, and my guess is they pulled the strings to give us the opportunity to take over the youth group. We were preaching in area churches, leading out in Sabbath school, starting Bible study groups, doing neighborhood Bible studies, running the school clubs and student body. I even gave a talk at my high school graduation. I'm sure faculty did more than we realized, but we felt like we were doing it.
What do you do to chill out? I like to play. I just turned 50 last month, so I cycled a hundred miles on my 50th birthday. I still play basketball with some old men in a gym, early morning, a couple times a week. I like scuba diving. The coolest place I've dived is on the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.
What would people be surprised to know about you? I have a masters' degree in physical education.
Why do you do so many “out there” things in your ministry? In the early ‘80s we had a renaissance in youth ministry in northern California. We'd do extreme things, creating opportunities for growth in a “non-neutral environment.” One thing for me was to identify, does God do this? I read through the Bible and noted all the times I saw God do it--and ended up with about 42 pages worth of single-spaced notes. The largest amount came in the gospels. Jesus didn't die of old age. Jesus was the cornerstone who crushed people and people stumbled on Him all the time. I concluded Jesus not only used these non-neutral environments, He was creating them all the time.
What kind of books do you read?I was recently reading Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities because it was a classic and I hadn't read it. Halfway through I asked myself why I was reading an old classic, and the answer was because I don't do it, and I need a broader life.
Where is your favorite place you've ever visited? I love to go to Seal Beach when I'm in LA. They have a little restaurant out on the pier that makes the best sundaes in the world.
How have teens changed since you were a teen, and how have they stayed the same? I see teens as the place where change is most apt to happen, because they're still in formation. I also see them searching for an identity, trying out different identities and experimenting. I think it's easier for teens now to connect and disconnect, thanks to technology. I think it's easier for teens today to connect with total strangers on UW and stay connected now with email, etc. But it's also made them sometimes go more superficial, because they have so many friends, it's hard to go deeper.
I've seen a real breakdown of families in North America, so teens are having to grow up faster. They don't have the stability I used to see. I'm amazed on UW to hear so many stories of how they're holding their families together.
What's something fun you're looking forward to? I got remarried in midlife, and so my wife and I want to do life with double the intensity. We don't want double the stress but double the intensity. I'm looking forward to us creating more and more memories together, and some of it may be outside of our work stuff. We'd like to go down to Tuscany and bike through Italy. Next time I'm in Australia, I'd like to take a one-week trip around the islands in the Great Barrier Reef.
What's the best book you've ever read? Long Walk to Freedom, the Autobiography of Nelson Mandela.
What's your favorite thing about youth ministry? I enjoy young people themselves because I see them as a source of life and a source of change. The details vary tremendously from person to person, and I thrive on that. I enjoy being around that and seeing the change happen.