There is an old tale with two versions about a church built of human bones. A Muslim man tells the first rendition. He espouses that the bones are the remnants of Muslims martyred by the Crusaders. A priest from Europe collected these bones and brought them to Prague where the church is erected. The Muslim proclaims that this priest exhibited true Christianity by showing love, peace and mercy.

The second interpretation of the story says the bones are the remnants of those who perished from the Black Plague. Fellow countrymen dug a mass grave and built a church over the grave as a memorial for their people who suffered a gruesome death. A church layman sprinkled soil from the Holy Land over the grave establishing it as holy ground.

Now, which of the two tales are ture? The second story. But what we learn from both of these renditions is that we cannot just believe everything we hear. We must look for the specifics in order to find the truth. We must also be careful so as not to just believe a story because it perceives Christians in a positive way. There are some acts in history carried out by Christians, which were horrible.

But, this story teaches us something so much more, epsecially in relation to working with youth. You see, this story speaks to us about actions and appearance.

This generation of youth are constantly looking at the actions of their leaders. They believe that if their youth leader acts a certain way then their behavior of following their lead is also justified whether it is right or wrong.

It is also important for leaders to practice what they preach. As a role model, it is just as important for your actions and words to be “seasoned with salt” in non-Christian environments as they are among the local church youth groups. Elements of our identity include our personality, community and faith.

For those of us who are youth leaders it is critical to instill these elements into the lives of the youth we are working with. We can implement the elements into our everyday lives. Through this we show our faith and to continue a positive and active spirit to encourage the youth to do the same.

As a youth leader I have to have hope and openness to interact with different people – in my church, family and among people who belongs to other religions.

So, in conclusion we learned how important it is to investigate and get to the bottom of thing rather than just believing what anyone tells us. It is important to be critical and search for the facts.

Our identity is not like having a passport, we can’t put it in our pockets whenever we feel like it and bring it out when we need to convince someone of who we are, but our identity should encompass our every being that when people see us our identity radiates through our speech, conduct and actions.

This is an exerpt from the youth leadership training seminar for youth leaders in the West Bank.

By Dina Schroeder