We Must Overcome the Fear of Reaching Loner Teenagers

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There obviously would be negative vibes coming from some American people concerning the risks of reaching out to the loner teens. These types of young people over and over become the "shooters" in the schools. However, they are at a very small percentage. What single factor more than any other will keep us from reaching out to these needy "alone" teenagers? There is only one thing — the fear factor!

Hopefully with this article I can stir your faith to step out and reach out to the students who seem so alone, and without friends, at the public schools in your neighborhood. At the same time, I hope to dispel some myths that seem to fly through the air as we hear the Spirit of God stir our hearts to be an instrument of His Love! Often by listening to the warnings of the fearful, faith based projects are stopped before they are ever started! Just ask Nehemiah.

Loren Cunningham, the founder of Youth With A Mission, walked into his denomination headquarters excited about a vision God had just given him in the mid 1950s. It was a revolutionary missions plan using young people all over the world to win souls. He did not expect to hear what his General Superintendent told him! He was told that it just couldn't work. That it would be too dangerous for the teenagers, and that he would have to come up with a new plan. One of the largest evangelical denominations in the country with seeming unlimited resources and solid Christian people, flatly told Lauren he could not do what God had called him to do! Lauren did not yet realize that his plan was so far bigger than any one denomination and that God knew what he was doing! Today YWAM has thousands of full time employees and is in 171 countries around the world! Proverbs 21:31 says; "The horse is prepared for the day of battle but safety is of the Lord!

I can remember one of my first trips into Bed Stuyvesant Brooklyn to volunteer at a huge inner city bus ministry. I was traveling down from upstate New York and the two previous trips I had a Christian Brother ride along. At the last minute he cancelled and I found myself in one of the highest crime areas of the country. I was arriving at midnight to avoid high traffic. I was going to the church, a converted beer factory, where I would be sleeping in the church nursery. I can remember God's peace being on me so strongly I could have slept without fear on the sidewalk. When we pray a lot trusting God, we have very little fear about anything because God's Spirit rests so profoundly upon us and gives us an inner calm! That was one of my first experiences in learning Gods supernatural protection. When we are called to a potentially dangerous task that's when he will be the most near!

We must also acknowledge that an incredibly low percentage of this loner personality types ever become violent. By far most people known to be quiet alone types are just that — quiet and alone!

God knows all about fear and "fear not" is one of the most common phrases in the Bible. Once in my early years of ministry I was flying out to the Midwest for an evangelists conference. I really hadn't yet earned my wings and was always a bit nervous flying. I remember quietly asking in my heart while buckling myself in, "Lord what is the secret to overcoming the fear of flying? I get it Lord that the fear of flying is really the fear of dying because if this thing goes down we are all going to die! So Lord what is the secret to overcoming the fear of dying?" In His still small voice he replied, "Believe you're going to live!"

I know that I know that I know that there are going to be young people and youth leaders in our churches that are going to want to reach out to the "loner" kids of their high schools. They hopefully will even want to implement a plan as I have suggested in other articles that I have written. However, if normal protocol is followed the first wind that some people get of this plan will halt it in its infancy for fear we could be bringing a violent person into the church! Believe me, I feel I have seen it all in my many years of youth ministry and law of averages just falls the tree in that direction! It's sad but true!

In one church where I was youth pastor, I was filled with enthusiasm because this was a fast growing new church start-up. The pastor had a reputation of being a very kind and loving man when it came to reaching out to the lost and a burden to do so.

I was then working at a special education program alternative high school. I had been asked early to be the youth pastor and the pastors own grandchildren were in my youth group. Over the next year some of my Alternative High kids started coming to youth group. I was called into one of several meetings where it was being discussed on "how should we handle these worldly kids?" I guess everybody left home their WWJD bracelets that night?

I didn't like what I was sensing. Christian parents began to complain that they were worried how "these kids" might interact with "their kids!"

Finally it was decided that the best thing to do is have two youth groups. Brother Nolan can have "his Alternative High kids" in one youth group and we will have the church kids in another! Brother Nolan respectfully resigned.

What would Jesus do? He would lay down his life for these hurt, lonely, confused, often fatherless, sometimes parentless, needy teenagers. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God!

Rev Nolan J Harkness is the President and CEO of Nolan Harkness Evangelistic Ministries Inc. since 1985. He spent most of his adult life working in youth ministry. He also felt the calling of Evangelist/Revivalist and traveled as the door was open holding evangelistic meetings in churches throughout the Northeast. His website is www.verticalsound.org.