Think back to when you were 14. Go a little further, to age 9. Were you a Christian? How scary was it for you to share your faith on the battleground of your elementary or middle school? Did you even dare?
No matter how intimidating, it is crucial for kids in this age group to share their faith. In every classroom, on every city block, along every rural route, are hurting, broken and lost children. Many may never attend church–but they need to hear about Jesus. Who better to reach them than their Christian friends?
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is daring kids ages 9 to 14 to take a stand for Christ and share their faith by following the example of the Biblical prophet Daniel. Exiled to a foreign country at an early age, Daniel purposed in his heart that he would obey God and that he would not bow down to the pagan gods of Babylon. As a result, a king and an entire nation came to acknowledge the true God.
“Dare to Be a Daniel is a new training program that equips youth to share their faith in Jesus with others,” says BGEA president Franklin Graham. “It’s one of the most important programs we have ever launched. We want to have kids standing up for Christ in every public and private middle school in America.”
The program, which is launching now, includes a 14-page booklet, a CD-ROM with music, testimonies, an MP3 version of the Bible and a fun, interactive Web site.
There are 20 million kids ages 9 to 14 in the United States, says Paul Wylie, Dare to Be a Daniel director. Marketers call them “tweens” because they are in between various stages of cognitive and physical development. Television commercials target them for the formation of brand loyalty: Will they drink Pepsi or Coke? Would they prefer to arrive at school in an Escalade or a Hummer? Networks create programs just for them. And yet, they are often overlooked in the critical area of faith.
“Walk through a Christian bookstore and you’ll find all sorts of materials for preschoolers, elementary schoolers, high schoolers and college students,” Wylie said. “But there’s not much material for middle schoolers.”
The Great Commission does not change for different age groups, Wylie said. It is for everybody, including tweens.
“We want to teach kids to be evangelists,” he said. “We feel there’s a group of kids out there who are called. How wonderful it will be for them to feel that they are participating in God’s call earlier than they might otherwise have done.”
Dare to Be a Daniel teaches kids to live by the same four godly principles that Daniel lived by. Daniel purposed in his heart to obey God; he prayed and studied the Bible regularly; he picked godly friends; and his life pointed others to God. Daniel and his friends refused to be drawn away from God by the Babylonian society.
“How much is a public middle school like the Babylonian court?” Wylie asked. “Kids need practical tips and encouragement to choose godly friends and establish godly habits.”
Dare to Be a Daniel presents step-by-step instructions on how to help others put their trust in Christ. It lists nine Scripture verses that kids will memorize to help them explain to their friends that God loves them; that sin separates them from God; that Jesus is the way to forgiveness; and that they should trust Jesus for salvation.
“More than 50 percent of kids surveyed said they don’t share Christ because they are afraid they don’t have enough information,” Wylie said. “This program will help them. The memory verses are followed by a prayer to receive Christ. In some cases, participants might need to pray that prayer themselves. In other cases, participants will learn to lead their friends in that prayer.”
To become a member of the Dare to Be a Daniel Team, participants must recite the nine Scripture verses to their pastor. They will then receive dog tags with the Scripture verses, a personalized ID card recognizing them as a member of the Dare to Be a Daniel Team, and a password giving them access to a special “Team D2BD” section on daretobeadaniel.com.
The Web site includes music; a message board where kids can communicate with other participants and share prayer requests; a victory column, where they can share about friends they have led to Christ; and other spiritual helps. A 13-session, multi-media curriculum designed for use in Sunday School settings will be available in 2007.
Churches, schools, parents and grandparents are encouraged to get involved in Dare to Be a Daniel. Franklin issues this special challenge to kids:
“God can use you to have an impact on your school,” he says on the CD-ROM. “He can use you to have an impact on your community. … I dare you to be a Daniel. It’s not going to be easy. There are going to be kids that are going to laugh at you. They’re going to make fun of you. But so what? They laughed at Jesus. They mocked Jesus. As a matter of fact, they nailed Jesus to a tree and He died. He shed His blood for you and me.
“Shouldn’t we be willing to take a stand for Him? Shouldn’t we be willing to purpose in our heart that we’re not going to be like the rest of the world?”
Franklin challenges kids not to get drunk on alcohol and not to use drugs or get involved in sex, but to make the same commitment that Daniel made–to keep themselves pure and holy because that’s what God wants them to do. He also challenges them to share their faith with others.
“I dare you to take that stand for the Lord Jesus Christ,” Franklin says.