Dear Partners and Friends,

I want to once again thank you for all you do to make the work of our missionaries and field workers possible. Every day they go out into dangerous places and they lean heavily on your prayers for protection. The work that they have to do is exceedingly difficult and fraught with peril.

One of the things that we have to do is to get the young people to dream dreams that fit their capabilities and provide them with the means and counsel to actualize those dreams. Far too often, the teenagers that we deal with are told things by well-meaning adults which in turn have devastating effects and lead to disillusionment.

Ill-advised rhetoric is too commonly heard by the young people who live in the derelict neighborhoods where our young field workers serve. These youngsters often hear such things as, "You can achieve anything if you want it bad enough and work at it long and hard enough!" Statements like that are usually made to inner-city young people to inspire them to greatness, but sadly they often lead to despair.

A few years ago, I was visiting some of the ministry sites of our affiliate in Camden, New Jersey. I sat at the edge of a basketball court as I watched some inner-city boys playing pick-up games, and quickly engaged in conversation with those who were sitting on the sidelines waiting for their chance to play.

Talking to one 16-year-old, slightly overweight ballplayer, who could not have been more than 5'10", I asked, "What do you plan to do for the future? What are your goals in life?" The young man answered, "Iím gonna get a basketball scholarship and eventually play for the NBA." He explained that he was not on the high school team presently, but he would undoubtedly make the team in his junior year. He told me that he knew he could do that if he worked hard enough. "After all," he said, "I really want this and my teacher in school said that I can be anything I want if I want it bad enough. Iíll make the team next year. Just you wait and see."

There was a break in the play on the asphalt court and I asked this young aspiring athlete if he wanted to play me one-on-one, and he said yes. I took the ball and, without much effort, faked to my right, went to my left, slipped by him and scored an easy lay-up. Then I scored an easy jump shot, which I followed up with another driving lay-up, this time to the right side of the basket. Then our little competition was interrupted by two teams that wanted the basketball court for the next scheduled game.

As the two of us sat down together on the bleachers, I said to him, "You just got burned by a 68-year-old white manóand everybody knows that white men canít jump. Be realistic! Youíve got a lot of gifts and abilities, but you havenít got what it takes to play in the NBA. Why not take your studies seriously? I know youíre bright. Consider developing the abilities that God has given you. What about becoming a doctor; a lawyer; a teacher; or perhaps even a minister?"

Instead of being discouraged, he perked up. What followed was a lively discussion of the possible ways that he could have a career serving needy people in the name of Christ. We want young people to live out their callings from God. We work hard to teach them the Bible, pray with them and give them all the help we can to encourage them to maximize the gifts that God has given them. Help us to do that! We need your prayers! We need your gifts!


Tony Campolo

Tony Campolo


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