Did you ever stop and ask yourself where twenty years went? God has a strange way of showing up in our lives when we open ourselves to serendipity and synchronicity. Such was the case when I volunteered to serve the Youth of Unity in Sarasota the summer of 2010. At just about the same time, the Youth of Unity director was relocating. Little did I realize that by mid-November I would be taking two teenagers from our church to a YOU rally at a camp about three hours away.
At the rally, there were over 250 teens, along with adults and sponsors. While the camp conditions were rustic, one could overlook them for two nights because of all the amazing love, acceptance, non-judgment and extraordinary experiences we all had.
I’ve worked with teens in a professional capacity for many years, and I must say that I was impressed with the talent, love, and well-being of these teenagers, ages 14-18. They have been profoundly influenced by Unity’s message, as I was when I was first introduced to Unity through the Daily Word at age 21.
I met a lovely Truth student at the retreat in my family circle. She became my prayer partner, and her parting words gave me food for thought. She shared that it would be difficult to return to her public school because so many of the students don’t think like she does and don’t know about the incredible experiences she just had. She talked about the negativity that many of the students seem to be in.
As a trainer for over a decade for the Anti-Defamation League’s World of Difference program in preventing and interrupting bullying, I could well understand her comments. I have seen and heard about the pain and emotional issues directly from teenagers. Not only are American teens plagued by these common issues, they exist worldwide. I have seen them in other countries where I have lived and taught.
I suppose that is one of the reasons I have been led to work with youth. I want them to know they can make a difference. The day before I left Haiti in May 2010, the orphans I counseled at an orphanage told me, “We can make a difference!” It was over 20 years ago that I participated in YOU rallies with Bonnie Baron in Leesburg, Florida, and trained the Unity youth in conflict resolution.
Fast forward to 2010, and here I was not as a trainer, nor a workshop leader, but as an observer, participant, and YOU sponsor! I shared with Carolyn Renfro, who was leaving after years of service, how strange life is that we sometimes seem to come around in a circle. She reminded me then that God always seems to place us where we are needed when we let go and let God. That was the name of the retreat: “Let Go and Let God.”
Messages of Hope
These future Unity and world leaders at the rally did a wonderful job in leading and facilitating meditations and family groups. In this atmosphere, the teens knew that they were not being judged. They were accepted, no matter how different they might feel in the outside world.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have Unity schools all over the United States and overseas? We have had Unity schools approved by the Florida State Department of Education in West Palm Beach and Delray Beach. We need more. I hold a vision of our youth growing up to love themselves and others, and to serve the world in a better way.