There's hope for today's youth even in the midst of increasing hostility geared towards anything Christian in public schools. Acting on a burden that's been on the heart of evangelist Franklin Graham, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association launched a new training program this week challenging teens to rise as the next generation of believers and evangelists.
Dare to be a Daniel is a bold new evangelism tool designed for "tweens," aged 9-14, to equip them to share their faith with confidence, Paul Wylie, director of Dare to be a Daniel, summed up simply. It's a step-by-step program free to children and teens who want to take a stand for Christ as the Bible character Daniel exemplified.
"Daniel took a stand in the middle of the foreign culture, in a place that was unfriendly," said Wylie. He was "willing to stand up for his faith and his God and do things that were countercultural and different."
The new BGEA program calls tweens to take that same stand. Youth today face a school environment where Christian expressions are being taken out of the classrooms and even prayer is being banned. On top of that, this generation is bombarded by the media, Wylie noted. He called today's trend "tween kgoy" kids getting older younger, referring to the fashions worn and the adult temptations that are coming at them much sooner in life. It's a generation more unchurched than others.
But Wylie doesn't point the finger at society for discouraging or pulling down witnessing activity among the young students. Rather, the children are just ill-equipped to open their mouths for Christ.
"Fifty percent of the kids we interviewed [said] they felt unequipped" to share their faith, according to Wylie.
The tools may be out there, but the BGEA has "tweaked" those programs to make it relevant to this generation.
Targeting an age group that is almost twice as likely to accept Christ as those over 21, according to a recent Barna study, Dare to be a Daniel was developed to help tweens learn how to win souls for God. Students can sign up to be a Team D2BD member at dare2beadaniel.org, where they will be provided with training materials including a booklet teaching Christian principles and Bible verses, and an interactive CD-ROM complete with music, video testimonies, practical tips for sharing one's faith and the entire Bible, plus an MP3 of the New Testament. Upon completing the training course, the participating student will receive dog tags telling how to share their faith and a personalized ID card recognizing the youth as a D2BD Team member and a certified junior evangelist.
"I believe God can raise up an army of young people who are ready to build their lives on His standards, who like Daniel have the guts to take a bold stand for the Lord," said Graham in a released statement.
The initial rollout of the Dare to be a Daniel will take place in the United States and Canada. Following the evangelistic starter kits, the BGEA plans to make a Sunday School study available in January 2007 along with a Vacation Bible School curriculum later on.
"[We're] training people to be evangelists so they may reach the world one person at a time through their friends," said Wylie.