Too often, when you read about young people these days, it’s not the positive things that show up on the front page of newspapers or on the home page of websites.
Instead, it’s the drug arrests, the bullying, the drunk driving tickets, the sad testament of today’s society.
But that’s not the complete picture. In fact, it’s not really even representative of young people today, particularly if you’re talking about young people in Sampson County.
Just take Illuminate 2012 as the example. Bringing together some 225 youth, ages 12 to 18 and from all walks of life, for a week of community outreach, the now five-year-old mission-building event shows the side of young people we like to promote, the side that really is the far more complete picture of our futures.
And it’s a bright picture, indeed.
All last week, those over 200 young people teamed with several dozen adults to do work in their communities. Some built wheelchair ramps for the disabled and elderly, unable without them to leave their homes; others held backyard Bible schools, where they afforded youngsters the opportunity to come together and learn about God’s word in outdoor settings meant to allow them to mix and mingle; still others cleaned yards, packed thousands of meals for the hungry and made dresses for little girls living in Haiti.
The work was important and meaningful, making a difference in the lives of those being helped and, just as importantly, the lives of those who helped.
But as important as the assistance was, and it was vitally so, the larger focus of Illuminate shows that many young people right here in our midst understand the need to reach out, to seek guidance from a higher power, to use their God-given talents to benefit others and to give back some of that with which they’ve been blessed to those less fortunate than themselves.
And it goes to prove that if you take away their idle hands, their minds won’t be idle either, leading them into self-destructive paths that cause far more harm than the good they could otherwise be doing.
There is no real way to tell how many lives have been touched by Illuminate 2012, but one thing’s for certain: a very real impact was made and it is one that most likely will continue to touch lives as that which has been passed down inspires others to follow suit, giving back now some of that which those in Illuminate have given.
We offer our thanks to the leaders of Illuminate and to the over 200 young people who restored our faith once again in a younger generation that too often gets pegged as self-absorbed and uncaring when, in fact, many are far from it.
Those involved with Illuminate showed just how selfless they really are and just how much they care about others and their community and, most especially, their Lord.
Getting others to take part in those kind of special projects can have a far-reaching impact, so if we can inspire other young people to follow these examples, imagine the difference that can be made.
Wouldn’t it be nice to only read about the good things young people do because that’s what they’re all about? We think so, and we think Illuminate can be the light that leads them down that path.
It’s a great start toward that goal at the very least.