A Teenager Speaks...

Christ Only Answer

Dear Editor:

The headlines of today's newspaper (May 9) should be enough to draw the attention of the people of Florence toward the young people. Although we like to say that we have the best young people in the world, headlines like these call our attention to the fact that something is wrong somewhere.

I am one of the teenagers of Florence. I do not infer that I "know it all" - far from it - but I do think that I know the answer to the increasing juvenile vandalism in Florence - or any where else for that matter, I am speaking from experience. I have been on the other side, too.

Before presenting what I believe to be the answer to all this trouble, let me give a little background.

A few months back you had a picture in your paper showing the damage done to a cabin on Black Creek. Although I did not know who the boys were - I still do not, and do not care to - I know that the damage was done by some teenage boys. A thief or a burglar would not enter a place and tear it up just for fun. How did I know? Three and four years ago I was going on the same kind of escapades. Although we never did as much damage, we did the same sort of acts. (It is not uncommon among the young people of Florence; it happens every day; these boys were some who got caught.) The boys with whom I went around were not boys from broken homes either. We came from some of the "so called socially prominent families," to quote Chief Price.

What is the answer: All sorts of answers have been supplied many times before. Let's look at some of them.

Is supervised recreation the answer to the rise in juvenile vandalism? Over a year ago, when the public was excited by the rise in juvenile delinquency by some disturbance among the young people of Florence spending "spring holidays" at the beach, this was suggested as the answer. Hurriedly the P.T.S.A. (Parent, Teacher, and Student Association) a well meaning organization, was founded. They planned projects for the young people. They had dances every other Saturday night during football season and other dances during the school this past year. (From what I have seen, the dances have added opportunity for juvenile vandalism, such as breaking out car windows, drinking, etc., rather than cut it down.) I can say that the purpose of the P.T.S.A. was sincere, but I am afraid we will have to say that it has failed. (We see delinquency still with us.)

I can agree with Chief Price that Papa's writing out a check to cover it will only encourage more vandalism.

One good solution comes in the home. If parents would spend more time with their children and set an example for them to follow, this would help. If a boy sees his mother playing bridge once or twice a week, the normal result to expect is that he will go out to play poker with his friends. (I can agree with Dr. Chester Swor, recently holding a revival in our city, when he said there was no difference.) If a father goes out on Sunday and plays golf with the boys, he should expect nothing less than for his son to skip church on Sunday and go to the beach or creek and go swimming - tear up buildings. "Like father, like son," most of the time holds true. God's promise still holds true. "Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6.) If parents would do this, there would be much less juvenile delinquency I believe that to call it "juvenile delinquency" is not always correct. Most of the time it could be called "parental delinquency." But this is not entirely the answer.

I find myself among a group of ten or twelve boys (ex-vandals) who can prescribe Christ as the Answer! I, with other boys who are now Christians - was in vandalism, drinking, etc., before I was ever a teenager. It is hard to believe, but it is true. The same thing is going on today. (I was standing in front of a local drug store last Saturday, and heard two little boys who could not have been more than 12 - talking about going out and drinking beer last night. Think of it, a little boy that hardly comes up to my waist, drinking beer.

There is only one thing that will keep that boy from going to an alcoholics grave; it is the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I remember what people used to tell me. They would see me skipping church, drinking or doing something else as delinquent, and say, "Ward, a Christian should not do things like that." They say something silly, such as "You ought not to do that," or "You ought to go to Sunday School more regularly." They forgot one important fact, I was not a Christian! I had not been "born again." I was a sinner by birth and by choice, and I could not do anything but practice. I could not act like a Christian, when I was not one.

Let's be honest with ourselves. All of the young people of Florence are not Christians. They may all be church members, but they must have slipped by some way without having a personal experience with Jesus Christ. If all the young people of Florence were Christians, these things would not be going on. (Don't get me wrong; there are probably a good many Christian youth in Florence, but it is a sure thing that all of them are not.)

Why not let's face up to reality and do something for the young people that will be lasting. Point them to the Saviour, who died on the cross that whosoever comes to Him will have eternal life. Tell them what a difference the Lord Jesus Christ has made in the life of many and will make in theirs. Tell of the Saviour who said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man cometh unto the Father but by Me." I guarantee that He will be the answer to every problem that any modern day young person will ever have.

When I trusted Christ as my personal Saviour less than two years ago, He completely changed my life. I had no more desire to do things destructive. I had no more desire to drink alcoholic beverages. I found One Who would take the place of all those things I once loved.

Yes, the only answer to the problem is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is willing to do His part if people want Him. He will not force His way into anyone's life. The question is "Do the young people of Florence want Him?" Or, "Will the parents do their part in presenting Him as the answer to delinquency and vandalism?"

It is up to us! What will we do?

by Ward Gasque
Florence, SC, USA