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This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace. You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf.

Colossians 1:6-7 NLT

When God’s Good News is taught, lives are changed. This truth provides us with great hope and inspiration as we look at some of the current challenges in the world around us. 

Fear and anger have increasingly become a mainstay in our world today, with even the global Google search term “I am afraid” reaching its highest peak in three years this past January, matching only the pandemic-era height of April 2020. Mental health statistics have continued to worsen, especially amongst teenagers:

According to new CDC data released today, nearly 3 in 5 (57%) U.S. teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021—double that of boys, representing a nearly 60% increase and the highest level reported over the past decade. Youth mental health has continued to worsen—with particularly stark increases in widespread reports of harmful experiences among teen girls.

U.S. Teen Girls Experiencing Increased Sadness and Violence; CDC.gov

Our world is in need of change, and God can use each of us in the lives of those around us to bring about change for the better. Our personal change and willingness to share God’s Word with others are part of how he changes the world. The places we live, the people we are around, and the times in which we live are all part of God fulfilling his special purpose for our lives. 

Believing in and getting back to that purpose when we stop believing in it is an important part of restoring joy and hope in our own lives.

The hope that purpose brings 

Happiness is significantly correlated with feeling a sense of purpose and meaning, so when Gen Zs are encouraged to think about what they love to do, what they want to learn and the difference they want to make, it can be tremendously helpful for their sense of meaning and identity.

Forbes; Gen Z Is Struggling: 5 Things They Need For A Bright Future

Thinking about the difference we want to make changes our lives. We become more empowered, invigorated, and excited to help other people. 

Tenea and I experienced this firsthand when we saw our son study the Bible to become a Christian. I was inspired and challenged by the men who not only helped him change but also helped our whole family grow. God used his Word and our friendships to help my son overcome years of pain, fear, and guilt that had caused distance in his relationship with God, our family, and his friends. 

Other young men like Marcus Verella chose to wholeheartedly befriend my son, helping him be transparent and connected to God. My friends Scott Moala and Martin Oji spent every Saturday and Monday for months studying the Bible with him. These friends also helped me, using God’s Word to help me grow and address flawed ways of thinking, deep patterns of sin, and strong feelings of inadequacy I had been avoiding. I needed friends’ help to change, and to let my son build his own relationship with God apart from me or our family. 

And we will never stop thanking God for this: that when we preached to you, you didn’t think of the words we spoke as being just our own, but you accepted what we said as the very Word of God-which, of course, it was-and it changed your lives when you believed it.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 TLB

It was amazing to watch my son build his own relationship with God—his focus wasn’t on people, our family, or even what he could accomplish, but on God’s Word and its ability to change lives. With the help of God’s Word and spiritual friends, my son was baptized, and I was reminded through this time that only God, his Word, and friendships help us change and find hope in the challenges of life.

A summer of inspiring opportunities

So then, while we [as individual believers] have the opportunity, let us do good to all people [not only being helpful, but also doing that which promotes their spiritual well-being], and especially [be a blessing] to those of the household of faith (born-again believers).

Galatians 6:10 AMP

As Christians, we should take every opportunity to do good not only by giving to our communities, but also by inspiring others to know God by the way we live. As we kick off the summer, there are so many tremendous opportunities to do just that. 

  1. Take the opportunity to transform your view of the church

To prepare yourself spiritually for a summer of changed lives, check out Deep Spirituality’s One Quick Thought series about “The Church that Changed the World.” Let’s grow together to learn about the kind of church Jesus wants us to build by studying the New Testament church that changed the world! 

  1. Take the opportunity to pray for our Y-Camps

We are also excited to start off a summer of changed lives with our annual Y-Camps, “This Is Why.” Like the Forbes article touched on earlier, middle schoolers and teenagers are constantly seeking answers to their “why” questions of life, and our camps are a great opportunity for them to find those answers in God. Countless teens, including my son, have made decisions at camp to change their lives because of the inspiring and powerful messages and conversations they had there. We can’t wait for the stories of transformative change when camp comes in only two weeks, and we can each be part of supporting the camp by praying for the faith of each camper. 

  1. Take the opportunity to gather at Shoreline Amphitheater on July 30

Our annual Shoreline Service is coming up on July 30! This service is at one of the Bay Area’s most iconic venues, where we get to experience God’s Word preached, hear incredible musical performances, build memories with both old and new friends, and enjoy God’s purpose and vision for us. After a day of good food and even better conversations, we’ll get the chance to watch (or participate!) in our annual (and always competitive) 3-on-3 basketball tournament. We will also have a singles mixer this year, which is one of many ways we’ve been working to build our single professionals ministry.

God’s desire in everything we do is to change and save lives. We can’t wait to be inspired by the way God works through his Word and each of our lives this summer!

Until next time,

Sam and Tenea Manuel

East Bay Lead Ministers

Sam Manuel

Sam is a former outside linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers. Since retiring from the NFL, Sam has worked in the ministry serving communities in the Bay Area.

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