Don’t break the mirror

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“We need to understand that for every statistic, there is a young person who has a face, who has a story, who has a name. And I know, because I was destined to be one of those statistic until OneHope and your ministry came and saved my life.”  ~ “Theresa”

When I am favored with heartfelt, poignant words like these, my passion for awakening the global church to the reality of what is happening with children and youth today is renewed. No matter how awful the current state of things is in the world for kids, knowing that one life can be changed continues to drive me.

It is not unusual for church leaders in various nations to be shocked to the point of being speechless when we present the findings of the research we’ve done in their country. Nations like Malawi, that had Christianity brought to them by David Livingstone and purportedly been a Christian nation for one hundred and fifty years, are often stunned to read the uninformed, confusing, conflicting, or disheartening youths’ answers to questions about their faith. For instance, pastors in Malawi would have said that homosexuality in their culture was not even an issue because “everyone in Malawi understands that homosexual acts are sinful” –yet the research showed that 30 percent of Malawi’s young people approve of same-sex marriage.

Our findings are revealing that the true state of the many “Christian nations” around the world are Christian in name only–out of touch with the foundations of the faith.

My friend, Rev. Lazarus Chakwera gave me a metaphor for how Christian leaders felt trying to digest the results of the research. He told a story about a man lost in the African jungle who wandered for a long time trying to find his way. After many days, he finds a little glass mirror on the ground, looks into it and is disgusted by the dirty, haggard face he sees looking back at him. So much so that he throws the mirror on the ground and stomps on it. The mirror wasn’t the problem, it was just the messenger reflecting the current state of the man.

In the same way, our research is one reflection of the current state of a country. Rather than getting mad at the mirror and breaking it or stomping away in disgust, strong leaders have to make the decision to take steps toward working together to change what they actually see in their community into what they long for their society to be.

What gives me hope is the power of this mirror to help track the miraculous number of disheartening statistics that are transformed into heartwarming stories by the life changing power of God’s Word. When numbers are turned into faces. Faces worth waking up and fighting for. Worth doing something about. One child at a time.

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