Those who have studied in the field of sociology are well acquainted with the word of praxis. This is a clear declaration that the transformation of character occurs when persons carry on reflection in the context of action.
We have a tendency to separate reflection from action, but a genius of Youth With A Mission is that in nurturing Christians they do not separate the two. YWAM workers undergo intense disciplines of contemplative Bible study and prayer, on the one hand, while engaging the needs of people around them by their witnessing presence. Those who work with YWAM grow spiritually by reaching out to the people in their respective neighborhoods, prayerfully and in verbal witness, spending part of each day in intensive biblical reflection on what is happening in their own lives and how that is affecting the witness that they have in the world, and then move out to engage that world.
On two occasions, while touring Europe, I came upon YWAMers and asked what they were doing. They told me that they were praying over the neighborhoods around their bases of operation. I wondered whether that was doing any good until I talked to a local police chief who pointed out that since these young people were in town and praying against the dark forces of the neighborhoods that crime had dropped dramatically. I tend to shy away from mysticism, but there is no question that something spiritually powerful was occurring as these young people not only because they became significantly imbued with the Holy Spirit through prayer and reflection on scripture, but that they were able to funnel the dynamism that they received from such reflection onto the people of the neighborhoods around them and the effects were dramatic. This is living out of praxis.
While never minimizing the scholarly approach to understanding scripture, those who are engaged in Youth With A Mission learn how to find spiritual nurturance in a way that would easily have been affirmed by St. Ignatius several centuries ago. This Catholic saint developed a method of praying through the scriptures that YWAM, without acknowledging St. Ignatius, readily employs. They read scripture and then, in a period of silence that follows, wait for the Holy Spirit to speak to them and to teach them truths that God would have them learn. Jesus once declared that when He would ascend into heaven He would send the Holy Spirit who would teach His people and lead them into truth. That's what happens when YWAMers read scripture and silently wait for the Spirit to apply the words they have just read to their hearts, and give them insights that are applicable to the existential situations in which they live out the gospel.
Over the years, several young people from Eastern University, where I teach sociology, have gone on from their college years to be part of the YWAM program. In every single case, they have grown in the Spirit and none of them have fallen away from their commitment to Christ.
Christianity isn't just about getting people saved. It's nurturing them into a deeper walk with Christ and YWAM has adopted a methodology of reflection in the context of action that has done this in a remarkable way. It is no wonder that I constantly recommend that young people consider YWAM if they are anxious to grow into the fullness and stature that Christ has intended for them.
St. Davids, PA
Dr. Campolo is a media commentator on religious, social and political matters, having guested on television programs like The Colbert Report, Nightline, Crossfire, Politically Incorrect, The Charlie Rose Show, Larry King Live, CNN Dayside, CNN News and MSNBC News. He co-hosted his own television series, Hashing It Out, on the Odyssey Network, and presently hosts Across The Pond, a weekly program on the Premier Christian Radio Network in England. He is also a highly respected and sought after guest on radio stations across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
Dr. Campolo speaks about 350 different times each year around the world for a wide variety of groups including churches, colleges, youth groups and the business community.