Why 'Young Life Capernaum' Is Something SO Special

Why 'Young Life Capernaum' Is Something SO Special

"There is a plan and a purpose, a value to every life, no matter what its location, age, gender or disability" Sharron Angle

You may have heard of Young Life in high school but what you may never have heard of is Young Life Capernaum.

If you haven’t, let me just paint a quick picture for you of what a club might look like. Students arrive with the biggest smiles on their faces and greet their friends with the best hugs and happiest greetings. Students and their leaders sit down for a meal together and get to know each other through genuine conversation and abounding smiles. Club begins, we scream Taylor Swift songs at the top of our lungs and the craziest dance parties begin. Messy games encourage contagious laughter.

The speaker comes up and reminds us of the way we were fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of Jesus.

Capernaum is a branch of Young Life that gives students with intellectual and physical disabilities the opportunity to build a relationship with Jesus while also experiencing adventure, fun and love from leaders. We believe that people with disabilities deserve just as much as any other person to hear the truth of the gospel.

The term Capernaum comes from a story from the bible in Mark 2.

The story includes a group of friends who help their disabled friend reach Jesus by carrying him to the place where Jesus is known to be miraculously healing people. They are overwhelmed by a large crowd when they arrive but refusing to give up, they lower him down through the ceiling to meet Jesus. Jesus is astounded by their unwavering faith and heals the disabled man.

Capernaum is a representation of just that. Leaders walk alongside students in an attempt for them to experience the remarkable love, joy, grace and mercy Jesus has to offer. Everyone is given the opportunity to be abundantly loved by Jesus, regardless of their abilities and Capernaum is an environment that fosters that belief.

Having been a buddy/leader for several years now, I can honestly say that there is no greater joy than seeing a student sing a worship song and participate in a small group discussion about the love that Jesus has to offer people of all abilities! Some of the students may be non-verbal but it is so evident through their expressions and body language that God is doing great work in their hearts during Capernaum club. There is so much to be learned from the Capernaum students, as their constant joy and reliance on the Lord is so evident.

Capernaum doesn’t by any means always look perfect.

You never know exactly what may come up at any given moment whether it is an added singer that jumps up on stage with the worship leaders, a spontaneous dance party or a chant during the club talk but that is what makes Capernaum so beautiful.

Every student is loved for everything God made them to be and what could possibly be more incredible than that?

Cover Image Credit: Anna Parker

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Conformity Is A Good Thing: Misconceptions Vs. What God Tells Us

What we are being told does not match what God intends for us.

As I have grown older, I have started to notice that many church sermons given to young adults revolve around the same general themes of relationships, purity, idolatry, etc. These are definitely important topics that need to be addressed, but I fear that the wrong ideas are being drilled into impressionable audiences. Idolatry is often associated with the phrases “conforming to society” or “conforming to the way of this world”, and I do not question this correlation. To idolize material possessions means to value the things the world finds most valuable, whether that be money, sex, food, or whatever it is people value the most. What people do not realize is that subconsciously we make this connection that idolatry and conformity are related and therefore are both bad things. I am writing this to try and break down this connection because it is not completely correct.

Conformity is not an evil characteristic that humans are cursed with, but we tend to view it only in this negative light. It is instead a natural response that we are created with for the sole purpose of being like Christ. I used to have the preconceived notion that if I am conforming, then I am just straying away from God. Through lots of time delving deeper into the Word I discovered that scripture addresses conformity quite a lot, so we just have to listen to what God says on the matter instead of trying to figure it out on our own.

We know we are supposed to be conforming to be like Jesus because it is said blatantly that “those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:29). Not only does this confirm the positive function of conformity, but it also addresses one of its purposes. To be the firstborn among siblings in this verse means to be an example of Christ’s love and therefore have an avenue to lead people to Christ. So not only is conformity not a bad thing, it is also one of the ways we are called to spread the Gospel. This just confirms the importance God has given to the action of conformity and why we are so naturally predisposed to doing it.

It can also be concluded that conforming to Christ’s image is an act of being with Jesus. Physical acts of worship and obedience like baptism are common ways that believers outwardly express their faith, but what is the purpose of these examples of submission? Earlier in Romans, Paul debriefs the people on the significance of baptism by explaining that “all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3). Paul is implying that we become intertwined with the death of Christ through the conformity found in rituals of the church. To be a part of the death of Jesus does not mean that we die, but instead find life in His resurrection. Through this example of conformity, we have a path to heaven, and can therefore reside with Christ for eternity.

Lastly, we conform because we are loved by our Creator. In the first verse of Ephesians 5, Paul affirms this affection and tell us to “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children”. His approach in this teaching is not for us to conform out of obligation, but to instead conform out of inspiration or gratitude. For someone to love our broken selves unconditionally, it is a unique and powerful thing that every human should strive to mimic. Are we always successful? Not by a long shot, but the genuine attempt to do so is noble and will grow your spiritual fruit exponentially.

As we can see from the Word of God, this idea of conformity is considered more of a blessing than a curse. This, however, depends upon the priorities that a person has and what they value the most in their life. If someone finds themselves conforming more to the ideas of the world (which happens to everyone at some point or another), this is where conformity becomes ‘evil’ in the eyes of some Christians. It is important to recognize when you are participating in the wrong version of this concept and to correct it, that way we are fulfilling the purpose we were created for: to worship our loving Creator and to bring others into the family of God, so that we may all dwell in heaven together with Christ.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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