Feeding the Hungry and Figuring It Out

But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God. Acts 5:39

In the Book of Acts we read about numerous efforts to kill the Christians off. In Chapter 5, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who the Bible tells us was an honored teacher, advised the Sanhedrin not to kill the Apostles. He said, “Hey, if this is not of God it’s going to go away. Things not of God will die. They will perish. They don’t work. But if it is of God, then you cannot stop it. You can do whatever you want, but you will not stop it.”

I think that’s what our young people are saying too. I think it’s what they said by working so hard to package meals last Saturday. They are saying, “We love our neighbors like Jesus did, and you’re not going to stop us.” And there’s no reason they should be stopped. What they are doing is a fulfillment of true love. It’s unconditional.

Unconditional love.

Unconditional love.

Those kids did not know one person that would be fed through their hard work. And yet they loved them enough to put meal kits together for them. That’s unconditional love. And when you love someone just to love them, there’s no greater love than that. That’s the love of Jesus. That’s why it’s so important.

Some kids told me, “If we could do this for a living, we would.” It took my breath away! That is just an amazing, amazing deal.

We’re not trying to get these kids to commit to doing this for a living. Our message is, “Do what you’re gifted to do for a living, so that you can do these things as well.” To put it another way, we want to encourage these kids to become successful by using their God-given gifts. That way, they can use that success to serve the least among us. We tell them, “Become successful so you can continue to help build orphanages. Become successful so you can help dig water wells. Become successful so you can help rescue kids from trafficking. Become successful so you can sponsor these meals to help people who are hurting.”

And I guarantee they lay in bed Saturday night and said, “I feel good about myself.” I guarantee you some kids who came on Saturday said, “For the first time in my life, I feel good about myself and what I did. I can sleep soundly tonight and know that I didn’t cause any pain and frustration. I didn’t mess up.” I’m sure some of those kids get told all the time how much they mess up. Well that day, they didn’t mess up. That day, they were fulfilling the dreams of other people. That day, they thought about people who feel like they mess up, and took care of them.

These kids have figured it out. Whether they believe in Jesus or not, they’ve figured it out. Their souls are satisfied.

The Power of the Young

Two days until our Something to Eat event in East Palo Alto! We had such an incredible response to our 2011 event in Spokane. For four hours, 350 young people packaged meals. We were moving all day, working really hard, and we prepared 75,000 meals for the food banks.

Curiously, only one news crew showed up. We thought that was sad. You had 350 kids in Spokane, Washington taking care of people that were hungry, and the news crews had something better to do? I think not! I think that they missed the ball on that.

We weren’t doing it for media exposure, but the community needs to see that young people are acting in a positive way. Those kids definitely didn’t come to be on TV, yet they did such a special thing.

GAThis country needs to see that young people are no longer willing to be uneducated. They will respond when a crisis hits. They’ll hear about something like the suffering after the typhoon in the Philippines, and they’ll respond. They won’t sit there and say, “We never knew that this was happening.” They’ll say, “We know what’s happening, and we’re here to help with that. We’re going to fix that. We’re going to love our neighbor as ourselves.”

The Bible was written to bring complete peace to the world, by teaching us to love God and our neighbor. There’s no law against love. You cannot love somebody too much. You can’t go to jail for loving somebody. No one can hate you for loving somebody. No one’s going to be able to do that. The Bible is a fulfillment of peace, that’s what it is.

And so we need to know about these kids, loving their neighbor as themselves. The human traffickers need to know about them. They need to know that these kids have made up their minds and are saying, “We’re not going to sit back and accept that the chocolate industry is slaving out other kids. We’re not going to be okay with that. Because that’s a lack of respect for humanity, and that’s not how we love our neighbor. And the only way to bring peace to this world is to love our neighbor as ourselves.”

People need to know about the devastation of hunger, and lack of water, and lack of homes. And above all people need to know that our kids are no longer standing for it, and they’re going to fight it. This generation is going to be the generation that does what it takes to bring about a worldwide peace. People need to know.

Young Leaders Fighting Hunger

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Timothy was a very young person, and someone encouraged him saying, “Don’t let them look down on you because you’re young. You have good leadership skills.”

I’m looking forward to being with Generation Alive and Youthfront at our Something to Eat event this Saturday in East Palo Alto. I remember our first Something to Eat event, in Spokane in 2011. (Back then it was called “Feed the Hunger.”) The event was a direct experience of the leadership skills of the young. Our young people have really good leadership skills. At these Something to Eat events, they step out in front and they lead entire communities of people.

SomethingToEatAdults follow their lead because they see these young people getting excited about doing something that means selflessness, not selfishness. These young people say, “We want to serve. We want to serve people who are hurting. We want to get outside of our own selfish needs. We want to help other people, because we have and they don’t. We want to help with that.” At any age, fifteen years or thirty-three years, that’s pretty exciting.

The effects of the leadership of the young aren’t limited to just one day or just one event. In 2011, the event inspired a Spokane church to call and say, “Our fourth graders have challenged our high school youth group to a Something to Eat meal kit challenge. Who can package the most meals?” The public schools volunteered to host an event. A guy that worked at a bank stopped in to see what we were doing and said, “What if we got together and did this as a bank?” Well, that’s no problem! We’re mobile. We can go to all these places: churches, schools, banks, and more!

And there’s even more to what these young leaders accomplished. You see, now any time there’s a crisis, they’re going to be able to unite a community. They built faith within their community, and now, if a crisis like the one in Haiti or the Philippines hits and we launch a Something to Eat campaign, the whole community is going to know what we’re doing. They’ll know who we are, and they’ll join together to help.

Those kids back in 2011 really got excited about how good they felt. They brought the money, because they went from house to house. They did whatever they could. Their parents didn’t do it, they did. And now they can say, “We did it. We put 75,000 meals into the food banks. And people were fed.”

It really feels good to see people getting excited about feeding the hungry. The Gospel of Jesus Christ feels good. Our community is finding fulfillment because with every meal we package, we feed Jesus Christ Himself. In January 2011, we packaged 75,000 meals. We fed Jesus Christ 75,000 times! Think about that!

When you feed the Son of the Most High God, you can’t not be fulfilled. The love and compassion that goes into that is your ultimate fulfillment. It’s why you’re here!

The Challenge of Youth Ministry

And God said, Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. (Genesis 1:26)

The word “our” is plural. I do believe in the Trinity – the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and God – and I think when He said “our image,” He meant “our likeness.” He meant, “Who We are.” And I think that we humans are image-bearers based on that. We are to bear the image of God.

Jesus came down to show us what that image looks like. I think that’s why He came. I think youth workers and youth pastors need to take this very, very seriously.

When kids go to church, they look to one person, their youth pastor. They trust him, or her. Why? Because that’s the person their parents or the church have entrusted them to. When they listen to the youth pastor, these kids are saying, “This person cares for me, and is trying to help me and teach me truth.”

IheartYMSo these pastors have to pray hard. They have to truly ask God, “How can I reflect Christ appropriately? What do I do to bear Your image correctly?” They have to do this because for a lot of these kids, if their youth pastor fails them, they’re done. Based on their age and their time of life, their parents may not identify with them very well. Maybe some of the dads have walked out on them. So if their pastor fails them, they are lost.

When youth pastors seek to learn and understand why they’re here with kids, they realize they aren’t here to simply order pizza and play video games and babysit. They realize they’re here to show their kids the qualities and character of Jesus.

Youth pastors are here to say, “This is Jesus. He is the one we are following. He is the one the disciples followed. The disciples were in their teenage years when they followed Jesus. Did you know that? When Jesus called the disciples, they were young kids, man. They were teenagers. And He entrusted the Gospel to them like He’s entrusting the Gospel to you. And like those disciples, we have to know what we believe in, and we have to stand up for what we believe in, and we have to live what we believe in.”

If you are a youth pastor, then God has gifted you to work with young people. Young people are drawn to you for a reason. You have got to use that gifting to teach them and train them in the appropriate way. You have got to teach them how to love, and you have got to model that in your character, in your integrity, and in your personal life.

Kids are going to be around you all of the time. So they know if you fake it. They know if you’re not real. You have got to allow them to see who you are. Man, you have to love these kids with passion! Show them that your focus is to let them know who they are in Christ.

I know there are also a lot of things that kids show us. See you Monday.

The Holiness of Success

Sometimes people wonder what keeps me focused on social justice. They ask me, “What makes you do all this for other people?” Well, I do it because I care about other people. I love them, and I love the God that created them. It’s the same God that created me. He saved my life! So I want to help save others.

I’m focused on success for the same reason. I focus on success because I want to achieve something, not only for myself, but for those who do not have. I’m talking about those who do not have food, or clean water, or a mom and dad to love them, or even basic freedom.

I’d love to see that same approach to success take root in the world on a global scale. Continue reading

Finding Jesus in the Hearts of Kids

If you watched Saturday’s video, you’ll know that we had a Something to Eat event in early December. It was a huge deal for me. It was hard to be away from my family, and hard for my wife since she was alone with our three little boys. But I asked God, and God covered us, man. Her parents came to help, and she flew in to see me.

We had over 400 kids packaging meals that day, to send to Haiti, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. We held the event at Cesar Chavez Middle School, in East Palo Alto. The kids were middle school and high school age, plus there were some families that came in with their kids and volunteered to help. We had kids from the College Track program too. We had a whole spectrum. It was really cool.

There were four or five shootings just in the last month in East Palo Alto, and nineteen murders on the year. It’s a very high gang area. And so we saw something awesome that day. We saw these kids come out and show that they still want to love somebody. They showed that they want to find joy in something. This was Jesus. Continue reading

A Season for Giving Love and Hope

Comcast SportsNet California invited me to sit down with Jim Kozimor on Chronicle Live earlier this month. I got to talk about the World Series and Angel Pagan, and Generation Alive’s recent Something to Eat event in East Palo Alto. Here’s the video, in case you missed it.

http://www.csncalifornia.com/giants/affeldt-discusses-his-organization-generation-alive

Blessings on all of you. See you Wednesday.

Forging Unity in the Fire of Dialogue

We need to take action, and unify the church. If you read the Bible, you’ll know there’s got to be unity. It’s key to Jesus’ return. We need to begin an “iron sharpening iron” dialogue. Let’s come to an understanding. It might be hard, but it’s not impossible. We are all in this together. We are all the church. We sing differently, we worship differently, we handle our services differently, but those differences should not stand in the way of seeking unity in our ideas of who God is and how He works. We’re missing that, and Christian thinkers need to come together and start sharpening each other. Continue reading

Gospel of Prosperity

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the LORD of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.” Malachi 3:10

I see all of the Step Up movies. I love the dancing. How do they do what they do? I can’t do it! I went with my teammates last summer. I said, “We’re going,” and the guys made fun of me. “I cannot believe you watch that!” “The acting is terrible!” And I told them, “Yeah, the acting is terrible. But that’s not why I’m going! Have you seen the creativity of those kids? Have you seen what they do?” I had an epiphany when I got back to my hotel room. Dance is a big deal in Spokane. What if we merged our social justice ministry into the dance scene? Continue reading

Embarrassed by Christians

I do some work with Larkin Street Youth Services, a San Francisco-based youth ministry. Seven or eight Larkin Street kids came out to a game recently. One of them had a tattoo on her arm, and when she saw mine, she said, “Hey, what does that tattoo on your arm say?” I said, “It’s Latin. It says Solus Christus.” She asked me, “What does that mean?” And I said, “In Christ alone.”

“Oh,” she said. She sounded disappointed. But then she looked at me, and she asked, “Are you a Christian? Are you a Catholic?” And I said, “I’m neither.” Continue reading