Near the end of the year, the media normally selects the word that best characterized the past year. This year, I decided to do the same exercise in terms of teenagers and youth – the people I work with at Agape Portugal. The word that occurred to me was community. Looking up the dictionary definition confirmed my choice.
Youth seek to share their lives with their peers, from the most trivial moments of exchanging messages to the most important things often shared secretly with a best friend at school or while sitting in a coffee shop. Peer influence is especially powerful and often determines the choices young people make – either in good or bad ways.
Adolescence is generally one of the most troubled times in a person’s life. It is the time when people begin thinking about existential questions that result from our comparing ourselves with others and feeling like they are better. The caring community of peers can become a maze of masks used to cover one’s true identity. I have learned from experience that we can only love others once we have learned to love and accept ourselves.
Community – noun; state of what is common; parity; communion; identity; community of feelings, the condition of sharing certain interests in common.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your understanding. And love your neighbor as yourself.
I have also learned that the only way to truly love ourselves is by also knowing and loving our Creator. This principle is found in the Bible.
Jesus teaches that in doing this we will experience life. The person who believes these words and experiences this kind of life is powerful and full of confidence. When a teenager or other young Christian knows this life, I think they have much to give to each other and the communities they are a part of. THE4POINTS is a great way to cultivate a movement of young people who have this kind of confidence by faith and who are not ashamed to share it with others. These are 100% Christians. They live their faith in simple, creative ways that are relevant to their communities. We work to help teens become lights in their schools, among their friends, so that many more can experience true life.
Do not live according to the standards of this world, but be transformed by acquiring a new mentality. So you will understand the will of God, that is, what is good, what is His delight and that which is perfect.
In my own life, one man challenged me long ago. He is someone whom I love, and he is a great example of how to create a counter-culture movement that can change the way young people see their world. His name is Jesus. I took up his challenge, and I share it with you.
By Pedro Barbosa, Agape Portugal
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