My 19 year old son took a leave of absence after his first semester at Azusa Pacific University because he felt God called him to do something radical (APU is a place that encourages students to take faith-risks). Cody is currently in Africa for 7 months and I really think he represents a growing generation of young leaders who aren’t necessarily following the tradition route toward the American Dream of their boomer parents.

Some of the stories and photos reveal that these young adults are making a significant difference in the world.

It makes me wonder (maybe more now than ever) if the concept of a “mission year/gap year” (taking a year off before starting college and serving somewhere around the world) has legs. I don’t know. I think it’s working for my son Cody (and a few others that he’s with).

Not sure this concept is for everyone, but it’s making me do a lot of thinking.

Here’s a few blog snippets from these young leaders:

[Cody’s blog] Two weeks ago I went down to the slums in Shimo and invited some parents [and children] to come to church with us…. Lucy’s mother is an alcoholic with more children than she can count or even remember. Two mothers… children, and random kids who just started following the white people… to church. Sitting in church watching a mother whose life was overtaken by alcohol was nothing like I have ever seen before. Her tough outward appearance was broken down as she began to smile and laugh. During the service her palms pressed against her eyes as a last result to hold back tears. I don’t know what she got out of the message or if her life will change… but my prayer is that she will know that she is loved and has a Maker who adores her more than she could ever imagine.

[Jade’s blog] My first encounter with jiggers, I have heard of these before but have never seen what they can do. They are bugs that burrow into your feet from not wearing shoes, walking in the mud and such. They get into your skin and then lay eggs. The way you get them out is by digging into the skin with a needle.

We wrapped Lucy’s feet and went back to the house to grab her some shoes. We walked back and had Cody come with us because we knew that it would bring a smile to Lucy’s face. Sure enough she saw him and lit up, she sat with him in the shade and you could tell she was so content, she was joyful, and she felt loved.

It’s too difficult for me to separate my “dad hat” from my “youth worker hat”. I’d love to hear your perspective. Do you think we ought to encourage older high school kids to take a year off to do something significant before they enter college?