March 15, 2012

My Florida Epiphany

It was December 2004. I was in Orlando, Florida, working on my master’s degree thesis and a special project for the Adventist Review. I’d scheduled a tour of Celebration Florida Hospital, and a discussion on a proposed young adult-themed magazine issue. Through an impressive circuit a friend, Allan Martin, who was pastor of the Celebration church and widely known in North America as a young adult leader, explained the architecture of, and philosophy behind, the town and the hospital.
Then came lunch. As we enjoyed a delicious meal, Allan started to talk about how millennials were creeping into young adulthood. He talked about possible ways to reach them for Jesus, and how we needed to be the ones to inspire them—all too soon we’d be the dreaded “middle–aged”—so they could take up the mantle and finish His work.
I was just cresting over 30, and I thought about my younger brother. I shook my head. Then I said something about how the upcoming generation appeared shallow, too happy-go-lucky, with interests that weren’t deep. I spoke about how it seemed that all they cared about were video games and entertainment. They were apathetic.
Allan stared at me a moment. I could sense—just a little bit—disappointment as he gently corrected me: “They’re not shallow. In fact, I haven’t seen [a group more] in search of meaning. They are seekers. They can be reached. They want to be reached.” Our conversation continued with me agreeing—and shamefacedly apologizing.
Later I asked God to never let me forget the lesson I learned that day. I vowed that, with His help, I would always see people, regardless of age, as reachable—those millennials, my own children—and never fall into this trap again.
May my Florida epiphany stay with me until He returns.
Kimberly Luste Maran is young adult editor of the Adventist Review. This article was published March 14, 2012.