Acts 8 tells the story of an Ethiopian official who was sitting in his chariot, trying to make sense of Scripture and perhaps find the hope contained within. Philip the evangelist approached him and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
The Ethiopian’s reply should strike a chord in the heart of every follower of Christ: “How can I, unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:31)
Many young people today can empathize with the Ethiopian. They’ve been told that abundant hope is available to them, but they don’t know how to access it. They need someone to help them recognize it, understand it, and apply it to their lives.
The Acts narrative makes it clear that God sent Philip to guide the Ethiopian in his search for hope and truth. If you’d like to play the role of Philip in the lives of young people, here are a few ideas to consider.
Embrace the role of mentor.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Many young people have no one to offer such training. Are you willing to step into that void and take responsibility for a young person? You don’t need to be a parent—or even have experience in working with kids—in order to be an effective mentor. All you need is a heart for making a difference in someone’s life. Your investment of time, attention, and concern will yield hope in the life of a young person.
Introduce them to the Book of Philippians.
In his short letter to the church in Philippi, the Apostle Paul uses the words joy or rejoice more than a dozen times—and he scatters references to peace throughout.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).
If you spend enough time in the book, you’ll find that Paul’s joy is contagious. And where there’s joy, there’s hope.
Show them the expanse of their future.
The Book of Philippians figures prominently here, too. Too many young people have artificial limitations and low expectations thrust upon them. They’re led to believe that their potential is determined by their economic status, the functionality of their family, the area in which they grew up, their athletic ability, their standardized test scores, and other artificial measures.
Circumstances may limit the vision of some young people. In Philippians 1:3-6, Paul makes it clear that our future is in the hands of a loving God who has big plans for us.
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
That’s the message of hope young people need to hear.
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