“It doesn’t have to be a losing battle.”
Kairos hosts on-line “Parenting Forums” for interested parents and others concerned about the children in their lives. We did one this past October, which was focused on dealing with media. Over 200 participants joined us. We shared that the average American and Canadian teen spends a whole lot of time “plugged in” and entertained by screens. Christian families are certainly not immune. So, what is the risk? Is this worth the battle? YES!
Screen time and media affects basic character development, the ability to build and maintain real relationships, and how we can gain wisdom. On top of all this, screens radically affect brain development.
We gave some practical helps for achieving the media goal of “wise, but limited.” For example, “Be Second” – avoid being an early adopter of the newest technology. Wait and see what the effects are. “Evaluate before you implement” – work on delaying your young person’s exposure to screens and limit dependency on them.
How about us adults? Can we try having screens in public areas or in common places in our homes? It is not only a safeguard, but also a great opportunity for parents to model good online practices for our kids. Can we try having conversations with the parents of our kids’ friends to see if we can be in the same ballpark in media use?
More big areas: “Be limited” – have “no media” times like during meals and after 11:00 PM. Take a “Sabbath” where there is no media (including for us), and so on. Also having limited spaces and agreements about them: for example, not at the dinner table, not in the car, not in the bedroom.
“Limited Tech” – no smart phones for young teens (flip phones are still available and work fine for calling Mom for a ride), maybe only one computer for the family if possible. We also encourage parents to do self-assessments in this area. Do we limit our own use or is this just for the kids? (They will notice.) We do not recommend just confiscating the phone or tablet
even if the teen has a problem with overuse or dependency upon it. Rather, we recommend a
family approach—let’s all work towards regaining control of our devices.
David and Sarah Williamson, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, were among the participants. David went away with these reflections. “It was with this conviction that I walked away from the Kairos Parenting Forum: kids, media, screens, and devices: this stuff matters. On one level I know that, but on another level, I so easily lose sight of what I can do about it. “As a father of four young children, I am regularly intimidated by the rapidly approaching middle and high school years. The Kairos Parenting Forum gave me hope and a strategy for my family. It was helpful to hear from experienced youth workers who regularly engage with young people. They talked from personal experience about the trends they see and the effect it is having on real people and relationships. While they presented sobering facts about tech trends and the effects on youth, they also presented hope: there are things I can do as a parent, even small things, that can make a big difference. “I came away from the night with conviction, as well as tools, for raising my children to be mature, well-functioning human beings. It’s a long road ahead, but I have greater confidence that staying tuned in to Kairos and the resources they offer not only for kids, but also for parents, will be a big help in dealing with the challenges facing my kids. Kairos resources help me know what I can do as a parent to guide them through the challenges and opportunities presented in our tech-focused society.”
Thank you for your continue support in this battle for our youth. We deeply appreciate your prayers, your interest, and your financial support. Thanks for being one of our partners.
God bless you!
PS: Our goal is to have these forums yearly, generally in October. If you or parents you know want
to be part of it next October, contact Kairos web page https://kairos-na.org/contact/. As we get
closer to October, information about the next online forum will be available.
In January, the ninth annual “Legacy” conference was held in Detroit. We have also been in East Lansing and Ann Arbor, Michigan; Columbus, Ohio; Newark, New Jersey; St Paul, Minnesota; and Jacksonville, Florida. (Looking over this list, I am thinking more January conferences in warm places would be nice!) We do try to move around so we can enjoy all different sorts of places. While Legacy is not a Kairos event, many past and present Kairos staff and Kairos participants put on this conference and attend it.
We had over 80 folks from across North America come. Attendees ranged in age from early 20’s to early 30’s. The purpose of Legacy is like all our Kairos events: to help people choose for the Lord in every stage of life. Many of the people attending have participated in one or more Kairos event: summer adventure trips, YES! Retreats, service years, and so on. They said “yes” to following Christ and
being a disciple when they were young teens, older teens, college students, and/or working 20-somethings.
Now they are getting married, starting careers, choosing where to live, trying out celibate life, pursuing advanced degrees, buying homes, and so on. They are trying to find meaning in life at this stage—which turns out to be a struggle in our society.
Legacy is a time for folks to recommit to living the Gospel and being renewed in their commitment to mature, life-long disciple-ship. Mike Shaughnessy talked about what to do when life throws you a “wobbly” (no, we are not sure what that exactly means but it does communicate). Mike talked about how we experience grace when things do not go as we planned or how we had hoped they would.
In the decade of doing Legacy Conferences, over 1,000 folks have attended. Many have found the deeper walk with the Lord they were se
eking, or were encouraged, or made significant decisions, and many have made and strengthened friendships—grown as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Every stage of life brings its own opportunities and struggles. Our speakers tried to give hints, helps, and tools for coming through the current stage successfully.
The sharing with other brothers and sisters in a similar place of life (as well has having fun and fellowship with one another) was encouraging. We aim to make this a time of refreshment as well as growth.
As our Kairos youth grow into adulthood, we still value the opportunity to touch base and encourage them in their desire to follow the Lord. Many, even most, of our youth continue to embrace the call to follow Jesus Christ and organize their adult lives and families around the Christian call to be mature disciples.
Thank you for walking with them all the way through their youth. Your prayers for
them and your financial support for our Kairos programs are concrete ways you are making a difference in the next generation. We appreciate you more than we can express. May the Lord richly bless you and keep you in His hands.
Your brother in the Lord’s service,
Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ! Many young people participate in different Kairos programs: maybe summer adventure trips, YES! Retreats, or taking time off from “normal life” to serve the Stand in the Gap program or now as a Kairos Intern.
This month we hear from JM Hoyt, who did a Gap year in 2015, and stayed on in Michigan to continue serving and growing in his relationship with the Lord. JM grew up in Tempe, Arizona, in a faithful, church-going Christian family. For some reason, JM (like Onesimus from the book of Philemon) needed to get away to really “find” Jesus Christ. As JM says, “I knew everything about Christianity except Jesus.”
“In high school, I was constantly in trouble, hanging with the wrong people and serving many school detentions. I also had issues with academics. During my senior year, this landed me a suspension from the football team, right before big playoff games.
“I worked hard and caught up because I really wanted to play. I had to get several signatures to OK being reinstated to the team. The last one was my dad; I did not think he would be an issue. However, my dad had a condition: that he would present me several things I could do with the year after my graduation, and I had to pick from his list. I wanted to play so I agreed.
“Later in my senior year, I fell in love with philosophy (Aristotle and especially Stoicism). The Lord used this to start drawing me to a better path than the one I was on. Stoicism teaches that we should not get caught up in the world and things of the world. For most of my growing up, what I wanted was to be a Navy Seal. I knew one of the aspects of special ops is being a man of your word. The philosophers gave me the motivation to be that.
“During the summer, my parents sent me to The Philippines to serve with a priest friend of the family. I thought that would cover my dad’s conditions, but it did not! While I was gone, my dad talked with Mike Shaughnessy, the one who developed the Kairos ‘youth bridge’ concept that is now the basis of how we shape our Kairos programs. Mike suggested sending me to Michigan to do a Gap year.
“This was not what I wanted to do, but I was trying to be a man of my word. I was not a Christian when I did the interview for the Gap year. However, I knew all the ‘answers’ because of my upbringing.
“One aspect of the Gap year was a Life in the Spirit seminar. During that seminar, I encountered the Lord and gave my life to Him in a real way. I heard the Lord ask me if I wanted Him. As time went on, my question to myself has been: ‘do I want to continue to serve the Lord and be a disciple?’ This question has informed many decisions since that time.
“After my Gap year, I decided to stay in Lansing. I could see that there were many opportunities to serve and grow as a disciple of the Lord here. If I went back to Tempe, it would be harder with my old friends and connections. There, I was the kid always in trouble and barely passing high school. Here, I was creating a reputation of being zealous for the Lord and someone who could be trusted with significant service in the outreaches.
“I began serving in the University Christian Outreach (UCO) here in Lansing and lived in a UCO household for two years. I went to the community college and earned a degree in skilled trades. I helped lead the Gap guys’ household and continued doing staff work with UCO. I even lived with a household of the Servants of the Word—men living single for the Lord. I wanted to be with these holy guys and to discern what the Lord had for me regarding state of life: continuing with the Servants of the Word, becoming a priest, or married life. After discernment with the brothers, I moved out and took on a UCO household again.
“Now I am doing outreach for a young professions (YP) group in Lansing, called ‘Sycamore Outreach.’ The YP group is what we call the end of the ‘youth bridge.’ We reach out to post-college folks, younger people in trades, and those working instead of attending college. It takes work to contact non-university folks. In addition, many churches have some sort of YP, which can make this seem like a ’saturated market.’ However, generally these outreaches focus on social events—I’m all for social events—but do not call people to mature discipleship and a life-long relationship with Jesus Christ.
“Our goal is to move YPs into an adult, established community of believers by bringing our YP members fully to Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit. We look at this outreach as an ‘on-ramp’ to a committed life in the Lord. We want people to form Christian relationships that will support them in their adult Christian lives: married, single, older, younger, and when they are raising their own families.”
Isn’t it remarkable what the Lord can do with one reluctant ‘Gapper’? Thank you so much for supporting our youth mission work! The Lord is raising up the next generation of missionaries, disciples and leaders, Christian marriages and families, and celibates “for such a time as this.” We are grateful to be on mission with you.
Your brother in Christ,
Happy New Year! May the Lord shower you with many blessings in 2022.
We decided to begin the New Year with thanksgiving for all the Lord has done—known and unknown—in the past year. It is very important that you, our partners and donors, know how the Lord used you to move this mission forward. We could not do our many trips, hold YES! Retreats, have Summer Adventure Guides, or have Kairos interns without your support. Here, in the cold of winter, we want to give you a quick report from one of last summer’s girls trips.
This is a report from Katie, who went on the Boundary Waters Adventure Trip, in northern Minnesota. “I decided to go on the adventure trip because it sounded fun and I wanted to learn some skills. I did have adventure and learned a ton!
“Our group took the wrong portage on day one and became lost. Our first two portages on that day were longer than the longest we were supposed to do. The total portage distance for our trip was supposed to be 3-5 miles, but our group did around 15 miles!
“While paddling around a big lake looking for the next portage, we went through a marshy area that was, again, wrong. In the marsh, we often were walking the canoes chanting ‘1,2,3 push’ through all this wet land. Then we came to a section of boulders and marsh – we sort of jumped, with the canoes, from boulder to boulder. We made it through the marsh and came to a small lake, which was more like a pond.
“We knew then we had really gone wrong, and our paper map did not help us. We had phone GPS (which should not have worked in the wilderness). We prayed over the phone and got a ‘magic God signal.’ We saw we had to go back through the marsh (which was really my favorite part!).
Returning to the bigger lake, we found some people who helped us get back on track. We would have to go all the way back and begin again, which meant giving up the scheduled rest day so we could finish the trip. On day two, we made where we were supposed to be on day one – we felt like we were the champions!
“To make up time, we were able to go another way (again a long portage but we knew we could do it because we had already done longer ones). We were a whole lake ahead of schedule by 11:30 AM! That gave us an afternoon of rest and fun that we were not expecting to have.
“Not knowing where we were was the most stressful part for me; I was not in control, which was hard. God let me know that HE was in control. In the Boundary Waters, there was no second option – we get through or are stuck. The canoe on your back is a physical burden, but that can be easier than the mental burden. I was able to ‘zone out’ on the physical (the heavy canoe) and think about the spiritual. This lesson has helped me deal with other physical burdens – ‘I can do this.’”
As you can see, our Kairos trips allow for a good amount of supervised adventure. While we did not intend for this trip to be as rugged as Katie describes, our trips do “stretch” our youth (and our leaders!).
But why do we do this? To allow for experiences just like Katie had: encountering times when we need to trust in the Lord and experience His provision. Having the youth see concrete and personal answered prayers and experiencing help from the Lord, is difficult to reproduce in regular, comfortable life.
And, the reason we are able to provide this experience is because of your prayer and financial support. We are so grateful to you. Again, many blessings to you and your family in the New Year.
Your brother in Christ,
Many young men and women have participated in the Kairos Stand in the Gap program over the years. Some of them discern the Lord’s call to go on doing mission for another year (or even more). Michael Koval is one such young man. He spent last year in London, serving mainly with the college outreach and evangelism there.
Mike came back to the States this past summer and we were able to catch up with him to report on his year. Mike is a certified welder, so he was using the summer to raise funds for another year on mission.
Why did you decide to take a year “Stand in the Gap” in London?
“I simply felt the Lord putting this call on my heart over time, it wasn’t a ‘snap—of—the—fingers’ decision. I was working in what I thought at the time was going to be my career, but I found myself desiring to serve the Lord more fully. As time went on, several words from the Lord, along with conversations with trusted friends and loved ones lead me to a) believe this truly was a call from God, and b) know I could trust in his plan despite my fear of leaving my roots in Michigan. The latter was one of my greatest motivations and greatest obstacles; I knew I needed to grow In my faith and I also knew that leaving my bonds of comfort was the only way to do it.”
What were a couple of highlights?
“There were many highlights, so many in fact I usually tell people the entire year was simply the best year of my life! I was able to watch the Lord tangibly work in my life; in ways I never expected or knew was possible. There were, of course, some very ‘highlighted’ highlights, the first being my experience with an outreach ministry. We went to an event called Witch Fest, which is the largest gathering of witches and warlocks in the world, numbering in the thousands.
“The day I spent with a handful of fellow Christians ministering to these people was hands down the most powerful experience I have ever had in my entire life. It is going take one heck of another Saturday to beat it! I witnessed miraculous conversions, and I came away with a completely renewed sense of God’s unconditional love for every person, even those that devote their lives in the pursuit of the evil one. God still loves them and wants them to know it. To witness a lifelong Wicken break down, admit she never knew Jesus loved her, and then immediately give her life to Christ, was, to say the least, groundbreaking in my faith.
“Another highlight I want to mention was living with a household of the Servants of the Word, a group of celibate, missionary men. The consistency in prayer and the overall structure living there gave my life was pivotal to the growth in my relationship with God that I needed.”
Can you share some thing or two that were challenges for you?
“In all of this, the hardest challenge was leaving, not my job or even my country, but my friends and family on whom I rely on so much. However, in hindsight, I can say with full certainty it was the best thing I could have ever done for myself, or rather the best thing God has worked in me. It was necessary for me to leave everything in order to find solace in a new reliance on God and a new trust in his power.”
You are going back to London for another year on mission. Why?
“I felt many times over my first mission/Gap year that God was calling me to give more of my life to him for the sake of mission. After a lengthy discernment process, I truly felt blessed to have found a place where I can help and serve in building the kingdom of God. Through that time of discernment, God wholly changed my heart. I thought the idea of serving for two years was out of the question, but after seeking the Lord in prayer more deeply, and asking for a heart like clay that He can mold to His likeness, God did just that. I haven’t a single regret or doubt that I am where God wants me to be for this time of my life.”
Knowing young men like Mike is an amazing privilege. What a servant of Christ he has become! Thank you for participating in the mission of reaching young people for Jesus; your prayers and financial support go a very long ways in helping us help them. May the Lord bless and keep you and your loved ones.