Interruptions: Taking Youth Away From Their Comforts and Luxuries

I love summer camp. I remember as a teenager having the first try at managing my own schedule, eating what I wanted (ice cream for every meal was one of the coolest things ever), and having fun however I wanted (good clean fun, I promise).

In my experience working with teenagers and young adults, I’ve discovered that these little “interruptions” in our life open the door in a wardrobe-Narnia kind of way.  Let me explain…

Last week I took one of my sisters and one of my brothers down to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti (there are six kids total in my family). My youngest brother Jason was on his first trip out of the country at age 15, and I’m pretty sure this experience changed his life. 

Out of all six of us children, he has been the one to break records. For example, my poor mother had to get just the right cell phone plan to accommodate his 30,000 monthly text messages… that’s right 30,000. But something changed last week.

We interrupted his life in Haiti. No more cell phone, no more Rock Band, no more small town boredom. We slept in 100 degree temperatures, on a cement floor, amidst the smells, the devastation of a city in trauma, etc. I couldn’t believe what it meant to watch him take this all in stride…and excel.

He learned Creole, initiated conversations with every translator, taught Haitian school kids Michael Jackson dance moves, preached (that’s right, fiery preacher kind of stuff) in front a church (one of the first to volunteer even!). I couldn’t believe it.

I didn’t change anything. I’m under the firm belief that getting him out of his normal environment showed him the door. Robbing him of his normal comforts and luxuries opened that door and the rest took care of itself.  

We give God an opportunity to come in and change us when we dismantle everything that gives us a reason not to. As leaders, we owe it to this generation to “interrupt” their lives.  We know they want to change, let’s give them every opportunity.

(Jimmy McCarty is the Director of Training for the World Race. The video below captures his thoughts on the long-term impact of short-term mission trips. For email subscribers, the video appears after the jump.)

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