A little over a year ago I started working on a book that would speak to the needs of at-risk youth. I use that term loosely because the truth is all youth are at risk of not realizing their full potential or finding their true purpose in life if they do not receive the appropriate attention and guidance.
I remember once sitting in church listening to a sermon and looking around wondering, “is there anyone here who can relate to the things that I’ve been through?” I was sure that there were, but I never heard anyone share in a transparent and practical way the challenges they faced in life and how they overcame those challenges. As a teen that is what I was hungry for; someone to provide a roadmap and tools for how to overcome real life challenges. Someone that overcame the kind of family drama that causes pain and leads us to build emotional walls that eventually become barriers to pursuing our purpose.
That practical, hard, honest truth and transparency is what so many teens are looking for. They are looking for people who can relate to what they are going through, people who can intimately identify with their struggles because they also have struggles of their own. What’s more, they are looking for men and women who can show a way out that allows them to change their lives and embark on a new journey free to be themselves, find peace and pursue their purpose in life.
In as much as I wonder if there was anyone in the church who could relate, I also wanted to know if God could relate to what I had been through. When I heard preachers and teachers talk about people in the Bible their lives seemed so different from my life, their journey and encounters seemed unrealistic, unattainable and distant from my reality. God wasn’t parting any Red Sea in my community, no water from a rock, no manna from heaven, no blessings beyond measure, no healing of the sick or resurrecting of the dead. In my experience, and the experience of many teens in both urban and suburban communities, the giants were winning, the streets were being flooded with drugs, the gangs were taking over the land, poverty and pain prevailed in the absence of bread from heaven and prosperity.
Like me, teens and even adults want to know, “Is there anyone in the Bible like me? Did God do anything for young men and women who went through what I’m going through? How did they overcome and how did God help them?”
With these questions I decided to look at the Bible again through a different lens. I began to search for young men and women who for all intents and purposes could have been teenagers dealing with family drama, community rejection, being misunderstood and ready to give up; I found them and I found quite a few.
God’s Graffiti: Inspiring Stories for Teens looks at young men and women in the Bible, shows how they were really at-risk teens and how God helped them overcome issues in their families and communities to heal and become the great leaders we know them as today. God’s Graffiti is about showing young people and adults that like graffiti, our lives can look messy, be misunderstood and confusing. Just like graffiti, on the surface our lives can look like they have no meaning, but when we take a closer look there is always a message in those confusing and hard to understand images. The observer doesn’t always get it but the artist knows what he or she is doing and beneath the surface there is a message.
That is the same way God works in our lives. Sometimes our lives look messy, hard to understand, confusing and misunderstood by the people who look at us. People on the outside looking in just want us to clean it up and cover it up without ever learning from it. But God is the artist and God takes what looks like a mess and turns it in to something beautiful. We are all God’s Graffiti. This book is designed to show you how God can turn a mess into a miracle and the evidence comes from the lives of people in the Bible and my own personal experience with God turning my pain into purpose. I hope that you take a moment to read it, share it with someone in need of answers and find the tools that will empower you to get back on the right track. Know that God is with you and that your future is bigger, better and brighter than your past.
Rev. Romal J. Tune is the Founder and Executive administrator of two touchstone entities that exemplify this mission; The national non-profit Faith for Change, which solicits community involvement with high-needs schools to keep kids in school and promote lasting academic achievement, and FFC Consulting, which engages and connects principals, companies, and organizations with the faith-based community at large. He is the author of, God’s Graffiti: Inspiring Stories for Teens.
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