It hit me while worshiping with some 70 youth from all over Israel, at the conclusion of this summer’s Katzir-Harvest teen conference:
Identity. We all want to know who we are. But during the teen years the quest is both intensified and, at times, desperate ― even excruciating. These kids are faced with a tsunami of alternative identities. And all but one of them lead to a dead end ― even literally. The one identity, the one true person they really are, is only discoverable through an intimate, real, love relationship with their Creator ― who also redeemed each of them through the atoning power of His blood.
As these thoughts run through my mind, Joel is now closing the final message from the week-long series on the Sermon on the Mount. He’s inviting the youth forward to get rid of whatever is blocking their relationship with God: “What prevents you from knowing His love? Cry out to our Father. Tell Him ‘I want to know you, to receive your love.’ Maybe you have to give up something ― to turn from wrong acts, fleshly habits, and receive forgiveness.”
Young people one after another are coming forward to pray with their counselors. They are seeking assistance, assurance, release, renewal. I’m watching the arms of counselors surrounding youthful shoulders with assurance, comfort, encouragement…men to men; women to women. These young adult believers have poured themselves out for the kids they’ve been living with in close quarters all week long. Israelis in their 20s, they took time from work, studies, family, army service ― in the heat of summer ― to volunteer 24/7. They are the transmitters of faith-hope-love to their younger countrymen. What heroes! What a gutsy bunch! I am astounded at their depth, their sensitivity, their genuineness.
Teenage men and women hold their heads in their hands, soberly considering their lives before God in prolonged prayer. This is not to be taken for granted. All week long there have been games, meals, volunteer trash cleanup, volunteering with elderly, evangelistic outreach, a hike, praise, teaching, discussion…and now the Spirit is delving deeply into the hearts of these tender lives. What a miracle that these young people are opening their hearts in true sincerity, to draw near to God!
The atmosphere of seeking Him is unbroken. A timeless space…the heavens are open, hearts are open. This is what it’s all about. Take it, Lord. Continue this profound, essential, most important work ― the transforming of next generation lives ― that all Israel may be saved.
What happened in the words of Katzir youth…
“I saw Yeshua…and wept over my life. I decided that’s it! I’m following Yeshua entirely. Katzir is a place to give Him everything.”
“God cleansed me.”
“I came closed. I was not in touch with God’s love. Then this morning God told me that I’m truly loved by him. It is so real!”
This article originally appeared in Oasis newsletter, September 2019, and reposted with permission.