World Race Expedition Coaches Gary and Lisa Black serve as missionaries in Spain. They have dedicated their lives to raising up and pouring into the next generation. Almost three years ago, the worst form of tragedy imaginable shook their family: their 19-year-old son, Michael, committed suicide.
Today, they are still on the front lines of fighting for this generation.
Lisa says it best: despite everything that has happened, she still has hope for this generation.
I get it—the lack of hope in our current society: the shootings, the violence, the elections, the human trafficking. It’s all too much.
Even if none of these plagues have invaded your front door, I know your house holds its own pain—broken relationships, addiction, cancer, grief, anger. At some point we all have to face the overwhelming pain and suffering that being human bestows upon us, ready or not.
Yet, we have all heard ourselves saying, “The children are our future.” Regardless of our religious and political views, everyone can agree on that one thing.
Or, if we are honest, maybe we don’t believe that anymore. Maybe all we see in this younger generation is laziness, apathy, video game playing, bored and immature millennials. We were all pretty immature once. Isn’t that the point of being young?
Several years ago I was deeply concerned for the millennials living under my roof, the ones that shared my last name. I was leaning toward bitterness over the time I had poured into my own family, not to mention the thousands of youth I had given my time and my heart to over the last 20 years.
It seemed like no one was getting it. It seemed that the “best of the best” were no different than the rest, no matter the mentoring, discipleship and love we lavished on them.
My heart was growing harder by the day. Then the unthinkable happened. Our brightest star, the best of the best in every area…our son Michael took his own life at 19 years of age.
Talk about losing faith.
Mine was obliterated in one day— April 17, 2013. I have never known pain like that. I didn’t know your heart could be ripped from your chest and somehow you could continue to breathe. It was like a bomb went off in our family and we scattered into a million little pieces, bloodied and barely holding on to life.
As the grief threatened to destroy us all, we began to quote Michael, we talked about who he was to each of us. At the same time, emails, stories and messages came in from all over the world telling us who Michael was to everyone touched by his life and shocked by his death.
In our darkest hour, slowly we began to find hope. We dressed ourselves with T-shirts,
bracelets and tattoos that shouted our truth in a whisper… “Love Like Mike”.
As simple as it sounds, remembering the way Michael loved EVERYONE gave us the hope to move forward.
Through his death Michael bestowed on all of us our mandate for the rest of our lives.
Michael GOT IT.
He was trying to teach us, but we could not hear him. He was showing us the Truth: that everyone deserves to be loved, to be heard, to be acknowledged in their uniqueness.
We were so focused on making his generation look, smell, think, and talk like us that we forgot to listen to their wisdom, to see their creativity, to celebrate their beauty.
If you have lost hope in the Millennials, I urge you—no I beg you— put down your phone, turn off your devices, look them in the eye and listen.
Don’t give up. Just keep listening…
They are screaming wisdom, creativity, and truth, but it will come to you in a whisper. The burden is on you to discover it.
But it is there, I promise you, I see it everyday.
They are our future, and it’s so much more than we believe.
I still have hope.
For more stories of how God is at work in the lives of high school, college students, and young adults throughout the world, click HERE for Ambassador stories and HERE for Passport blogs, and HERE for World Race blogs.
For more about short term mission trips in 2016, click HERE.