A teenager declared in yesterday’s newspaper “If I had been taught about HIV, I might not have the virus.” He said he had received absolutely no information on the subject in school and that sex education should be compulsory in schools. He said that his generation had not been exposed to the campaigns that were part of the curriculum in the 1980s.
I can’t imagine that in this day and age HIV awareness isn’t part of the curriculum. According to a survey done in 2011 one in four teenagers knew nothing. I find that really surprising. I’m also just a little inclined to think that just because something is taught in schools doesn’t mean that anything is actually learned. Just because a student is physically in class doesn’t mean that they are there in mind and spirit. There’s also an unwelcome notion that if someone doesn’t tell us something we can never know it. Only a small amount of the knowledge we possess comes from someone telling us. There’s a lot of learning to be done outside of the classroom and a teacher’s telling.
That said there are some things that we need to be told.
This morning I was reading Acts 19:8-12. Paul was speaking boldly about the Kingdom. After three months there was sufficient opposition for Paul to move out of the synagogue and into a lecture hall. For the next two years he spoke every day. The end result was “all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” There was no one able to say they had not been exposed to Paul’s teaching.
Along with the compelling preaching of God’s truth, there was also the evidence of miracles of healing and evil spirits being cast out.
I am sometimes inclined to think that my town doesn’t have people like Paul. What I really mean though is I am not like Paul then therefore there isn’t anyone like Paul. As if it was all about me and what I am not doing that perhaps I should.
There are Pauls in my town. There are people like the Healing on the Streets team, the Street pastors and individual men and woman who regularly talk to people about the Kingdom. Over the next week our churches are collaborating on a Prayer Space project in one of our local schools – giving young people and opportunity to explore what communicating with God is all about.
Paul would be impressed by that and join in.
This morning as I read about Paul and thought about the variety of things that are happening, God did ask the question “What about you? How can you contribute to telling people about the Kingdom?” Evangelism has become an uncomfortable word.
What came to mind was my long-ago days on a gospel outreach team. Like most out-of-the-comfort-zone experiences there was a lot I didn’t like doing but the one thing I excelled at was the sketch board. I was so far in my comfort zone that I didn’t really let others take their turn. It involved lots of paint, squares and pictures. Painting in bits of the squares produced letters, then words and provided a prompt for a short gospel message. Having run through the sketch boards we had been taught I set about designing my own. It’s not pushing the Bible down anyone’s throat. People stay till the end because they want to see what happens next, but they are free to walk away any time. Truth comes in teaspoon sized doses.
Our church is working slowly through a study about getting the message of the Kingdom into our local community. I shared my ideas about using a sketch board in the city centre. There was support and enthusiasm for the idea.
The next step…to be bold and just do it.