Area Youth Answer Troubled Times
Four Northeast Ohio students share how they cope in today's desperate times.
by Matthias R. Monschein
Left to right: Keith Gawelek, Parma High School; Sarah Chapman, Firelands High School; Jessica Neiger, Avon High School (missing: Krystal LaFontaine, John Marshall High School)
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately "Tell us." They said. "What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?"
Jesus answered His disciples: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming "I am the Christ" and will deceive many. "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places and these are the beginning of the birth pains."(Matthew 24:1-8)
When Jesus explained the end times, he was at the very place that the prophet Zechariah had predicted the Messiah would stand to establish his kingdom. It was a fitting place for the disciples to ask Jesus when He would come in power and what they could expect then.
Our Lord's reply was that the events would take place before the end of the age. Jesus also pointed out that his disciples should be less concerned with knowing the exact date and more concerned with being prepared - living God's way consistently so that no matter when Jesus came in glory, He would claim them as His own.
Since September of last year, we as a nation have lived in fear following the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. Today our nation is engrossed in a war that shows no sign of ending anytime soon. America's economy has taken a downward spiral creating panic, poverty and chaos around the world.
Are these the days that the Lord spoke of in the Book of Matthew?
I took this question to a few teens from various high schools in the Northeast Ohio. There was one criterion in choosing them and that was that they were very strong and active in their faith. These students are true ambassadors to the love of Jesus and represent their schools and classmates with a devotion rarely seen.
Jessica Neiger is a student at Avon High School, Krystal LaFontaine attends John Marshall High School in Cleveland, Keith Gawelek is a member of Parma Senior High School and Sarah Chapman is a senior at Firelands High School in Henrietta Township.
Q: Do you feel that these are the end times?
Jessica: I feel that it could happen very soon but the Bible says that we need to be prepared at all times. Keeping in the word and sharing my faith with others lets me stay in touch with things.
Krystal: I don't think that it will happen right away but we are definitely working towards that event.
Keith: I feel that we have been in the end times since Jesus first talked about it in the bible. One day is the same as 1000 years. No one knows exactly when it's coming therefore we all have to be ready and prepared for his coming.
Sarah: One of the things that needs to be done before the end times arrive is the Gospel needs to be reached to every nation. We're not there yet but it is coming very soon probably within this generation.
Q: How do you cope with the thought of war, poverty, fear and disease?
Jessica: I do not focus too much attention on that stuff. I like to keep my distance from it. Don't misunderstand me I feel deeply for all of the hurting and suffering but I can't let that take me away from other things like school or family.
Krystal: I don't talk about it too much. I just go on with life. There is so much more to do that to that.
Keith: I feel that it is best to keep my eyes on God at all times. It is not important to put my faith in earthly things but I need to trust God because he is in control of the things on earth.
Sarah: I like to focus on God and let him have control of everything. There is nothing that we can do on our own. I try to help by praying for them but I also need to keep my focus on the reality of it all and not worry too much.
Q: What is the importance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this day and time?
Jessica: I feel that everybody needs to know God. The first place to discover what he is about is in the Gospel. There are so many negative things out there that give you a false sense of being. You depend on it to fill a void in your lives. The only thing you really need to fill that void is Jesus and the Gospel.
Krystal: I think that sharing the gospel is necessary to base the morals to live by on. The Bible should be a reference to all people on just how to live their lives.
Keith: The importance is the same that it has always been, to get the word of Jesus Christ out to the world. It is important to share the good news so that people, who have never known him, can come to Christ.
Sarah: The Important thing is to get the Gospel out to the entire world. There are so many people out there that have never heard of the name Jesus Christ. They are dying and going to hell. We really need to get the Word out to those people.
Q: What should we as Christians do to help around the world?
Jessica: I feel that in helping others we should begin small and work our way to bigger and better things. Start with people we know and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with friends and family and just like a seed it will grow. As you grow, so will your help.
Krystal: To share the good news of Jesus and let them know that everything will be ok as long as you live by those standards.
Keith: To me the obvious thing is to give what ever we can in order to help out any way we can. We should be excellent witnesses to Jesus' love.
Sarah: We need to do what ever we can. All you need t o do to take the time and listen to them or even something as simple as a Smile could mean all of the difference between a person committing suicide and choosing to live.
Q: What would you say to somebody who feels hopeless, depressed or discouraged about these uncontrollable circumstances going on in their lives?
Jessica: I would tell them that it is ok and that I understand how they feel. We are all going through these things and have to deal with them in the same way. I would also tell them that if you accept Jesus in your heart and believe that he came to die for our sins that those feelings of hopelessness will fade away.
Krystal: I would set them down and have a long talk with them and let them that they are not the only ones that are going through this. I too am sad about things but need to keep hope alive and share my faith.
Keith: I would first tell them that God is in control and he is there for you at all times even though you do not see him. I would also let them know that I am there to help them too.
Sarah: The first thing that I would do is pray with them about the problem. God usually tells me what to say to them and he always has the right thing to say. I try as much to let God guide me after that point.
In Closing: The teens in this article were interviewed separately yet all of them shared relatively the same answers to my inquiries. Their grasp on the daily events of this world is complimented by their trust and belief that God is in control of all things and it will be ok if we only trust in Him.
We should listen and observe how our children grasp these times. Their wisdom is something that should not be ignored. In understanding that, we too, can learn to be content with our own circumstances.
"I tell you the truth. Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child, will never enter it" (Mark 10:15)