A Generational Coming of Age

July 7, 2016

generational
By Matt Morrison

It was the last things I expected to hear from my wife when she called me in the middle of the work day.

“We’re taking Caleb to the emergency room.  You need to meet us there.”

My son, just eight weeks old, had been violently throwing up for the past three days.  It was the first time we had ever walked our baby through illness and he was already requiring an emergency room visit.  To make matters worse, I was only two weeks into a new job and had already logged 1,000 miles of travel that week.  My wife had been carrying the burden on her own.

As soon as we hung up, I got in my car and rushed to the hospital.  When I got in the emergency room, my wife, my son, and my mom still hadn’t arrived from the pediatrician’s office.  Soon after bringing him in, they began the battery of tests – an ultrasound, x-ray, and an upper GI.

When all was said and done, he was diagnosed with pyloric stenosis, a surprisingly common but critical hardening of the valve between his stomach and small intestine.  In short, my baby boy’s stomach had hardened shut and he was losing nutrients.  He needed surgery immediately.

I had spent the entire day choking down my visceral hatred for hospitals and all things medical.  That night, everyone went home and it was just me and Caleb.  I felt scared, alienated, and way out of my league.  But he was still sick and recovering.  He needed his daddy.

I barely slept an hour that night.  It was just the two of us, the nurses, and a room full of machines.  It was hard but it was also one of the sweetest nights of my life.  For the past two months, I had barely known what I was doing.  I was still too intimidated by my new responsibilities to actually soak up fatherhood.  But that night was the turning point when I actually felt like a dad.  Despite all the drama and fear, I wouldn’t have traded those dark, sleepless hours for the world.  To this day, I still treasure it.

WE’RE IN A TURNING POINT

We often think of maturity as this steady process.  We expect it to come slowly as we experience day-to-day life.  But I’ve found that each new life chapter, and the maturity that comes with it, happens quickly through unexpected, decisive moments.  Their rarely fun, often punctuated by some difficult tragedy or trial.  That evening with Caleb was one of those coming-of-age moments.

But it’s not just individuals who have these experiences.  At times, an entire generation will go through it together.  For my grandparents, it was World War II.  When I was in high school, it was 9/11.  And as I digest the daily horror streaming over the news every day, I’ve realized that my generation is in the midst of a significant turning point even right now.  As Christians millennials, we’re facing one, whether we realize it or not.

Between the rise of ISIS, various conflicts in Africa, and a host of other problems plaguing the developing world, we are now facing the greatest refugee population in human history.  Just last month, the UNHCR forecasted that over 65 million people are now without a state.  Every minute, another 24 are displaced.  To put it in perspective, 1 in every 113 people are now displaced due to desperate circumstances in their homeland.

The size and magnitude of the crisis has taken years for us to comprehend.  It has progressed for over half a decade and now reaches a critical mass.  Governments, aid organizations, and individual citizens alike struggle to balance their desire to help with limited resources and constant security concerns.

Don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t just a problem for one country, one people group, or one generation.  This is an all-hands-on-deck issue.  But it takes place as millennials are establishing a foothold in the world.  As we experience early adulthood for the first time, the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II has broken loose.

When it comes to the Church, how the largest generation on the planet confronts this situation will set the tone for the next 30-50 years of Christian outreach.  Hidden in those masses of refugees flooding into Europe, a host of individuals from unreached people groups are now moving out of the restricted areas they call home and into the reach of Christian workers for the first time.

Through this crisis, God is opening a door for the Church to rise up, serve, and spread the Gospel.  Among one Middle Eastern group, the first believers in over 100 years were just baptized and a new church planting movement is taking hold.  The Yazidis, many of whom were recently run out of northern Iraq by ISIS, are opening their hearts to Jesus for the first time.  Meanwhile, just outside Syria, an Alawite man and Sunni woman recently met in a refugee camp.  While their people slaughter each other just across the border, their newfound faith in Christ brought them into a loving marriage with one another.  The husband often tells people that his proudest moment was writing “Christian” on his baby girl’s passport.

A GENERATIONAL CALL TO RISE

While it will take us sifting through violence, dejection, and heartbreak to do it, it’s critical that we answer the call to get involved.  We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to share the peace that comes from a loving relationship with Jesus Christ as millions mourn and search for answers.  For all Christians, this is a defining moment.  And for millennials in particular, this is our chance to exercise true spiritual leadership and set a precedent for the next generation of ministry.

The thing about coming of age moments is that they force us to step up.  If we shrink back, we miss an opportunity to grow and become more like Christ.  But if we rise up and accept the challenge, we can experience his will, strength, and provision in a fresh way.

So I challenge us, as followers of Christ, to rise up.  Serve the refugees in your own community.  Consider a short-term trip to regions where these people are settling and beginning new lives.  Give to those who are making a difference.  Pray for salvation for the 65 million now displaced.  And for my fellow millennials in particular, let our response to this crisis show a new generation the relentless love of Christ in the face of unbearable tragedy.

 

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