Week of Awareness


First Focus

Week of Awareness

Resurrection love compels us to move out into the darkness, renew the bonds of friendship, and examine our shadow side. We don’t have to look very far to find examples of strife. Since Cain and Abel, we’ve torn apart families and friendships with our sin. Some issues, however, seem to be so preventable with just a little more information and awareness. One of those is underage substance abuse.

Nationally in 2013, 23% of 9-12th graders have experimented with marijuana in the last month. When coupled with alcohol abuse among teenagers, these two areas combined produce a toxic mix of high risk behavior and death. Tallahassee and Leon County reflect these trends. The tragedy in the Rayborn family earlier this year was just one example of the heartbreaks people face way too often. Most families I know have attended the funeral of a teenager whose death could have been prevented.

As we celebrate college and high school graduates, we also recognize the challenges that these students and parents face. Christian parents cannot afford to bury their heads in the sand, and we know that the solution to these problems is much more than behavior modification. We need spiritual transformation in Jesus’s name. To raise awareness in our community, we also need good information. This is a community-wide problem, not limited to a neighborhood or two. Our teachers and administrators work hard to fulfill the mandates of state testing requirements, leaving no time in the school day to discuss health, character, and good judgment. Parents, neighbors, and friends share the responsibility as well as the opportunity to do some very important work together.

In April, Sachs Media, with the support of the Leon County Schools administration, commissioned an anonymous survey of Leon County high schoolers and parents from public and private schools. Over 1100 responded. The information they shared will be used as a part of a series called “The Week of Awareness.” On May 17, the Tallahassee Democrat and WCTV-TV will collaborate on stories designed to open our hearts to the realities of our community and what we can do as educators, parents, and friends to help prevent these tragedies.

For Christians, this information is just the beginning. But we do need a place to start the conversation. Join me in prayer for this important series that’s so important to all of us. Mark your calendar for February 5-6, 2016 for Connections Weekend, when our church will be discussing in greater depth the spiritual causes of the problems identified in this series. Dr. Chap Clark from Fuller Seminary will be with us to discuss the challenges facing adolescents that lead to these tragedies, and we’ll have helpful workshops to help us build stronger Christian homes. Every person in our church can make a difference. We don’t have to wait until February to become aware of the problem. Every generation has faced these issues; together, we can shine God’s love into the darkness.