June 12, 2012

Words of Wisdom from Teenagers?
Generation Joshua Summer Campers Speak Out

Will Estrada
Director, Generation Joshua

From left, siblings Mariah, Chris and Allee Millsap enjoy being challeged as a family at Generation Joshua iGovern East camp.
From left, siblings Mariah, Chris and Allee Millsap enjoy being challenged as a family at Generation Joshua iGovern East camp.

Gold Party leadership at GenJ camp: From left, Michael Robertson, vice presidential candidate, Patrick Lafferty, chairman, and Anthony Cuenca, presidential candidate.

We’ve completed another awesome Generation Joshua iGovern East Summer Leadership Camp on the campus of Patrick Henry College in northern Virginia. One-hundred-forty teenagers from across the nation participated in a program that challenged them spiritually, emotionally, intellectually.

At iGovern, the young people acted as members of Congress, drafting bills, wrestling with how to balance the federal budget, and reviewing international treaties. In addition, a presidential election was going on, and they were campaigning, supporting their candidates, and dealing with their party’s platform. It wasn’t all work as they enjoyed water wars, a tour of Washington, D.C., and daily worship and chapel messages. They heard from nationally known speakers including Mike Smith (president of HSLDA), Wendy Wright (pro-life activist and president of C-FAM), Tim Goeglein (vice president of external relations for Focus on the Family), and Mike Farris (founder and chairman of HSLDA and chancellor of Patrick Henry College).

On Friday, the last day of camp, I caught up with two of the young people at iGovern to ask them a few questions. Although I regularly work with hundreds and thousands of young people all across the nation as director of Generation Joshua, I have been inspired anew by the caliber of the future citizens and leaders of our nation who came out to iGovern East this year.

Seeking a Godly Heritage

Allee Millsap is a 17-year-old from Miami. This is actually the second year that she has attended iGovern. She was adopted at age 5, and her parents have homeschooled her ever since. She loves U.S. history and credits David Barton from WallBuilders for inspiring her to seek out America’s godly heritage. “I love, love, love how he shares about history,” she exclaimed to me. “My dad has taken us to Colonial Williamsburg [in Virginia] and he also loves politics and history,” she went on. “It always used to go in one ear and out the other, but after reading David Barton’s materials and seeing the truth of Psalm 33:12, it’s real to me.”

Allee told me that she was inspired to attend iGovern last year after reading Mike Farris’ book, The Joshua Generation. She loves U.S. history so much that she taught an American history class for homeschool girls, and then helped her sister Mariah (also in attendance at iGovern this year) direct a play starring the girls in her class as the wives of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Her sister Mariah wrote the entire play herself.

I asked her what she most enjoyed about iGovern. Without missing a beat she replied, “Seeing so many young people stepping up, getting out of their comfort zones, and being the light of the world.” I then asked her what she would say to adults reading this story. She thought for a second and said, “I would tell them that as you grow older, it’s never too late to make a difference and get involved. You can inspire the next generation, just like Mike Farris, the leadership at Generation Joshua, and my dad.”

True Leadership

I next sat down with Patrick Lafferty, 16, from Pittsburgh. After he confirmed to this Pennsylvania native that he was a Steelers fan, I asked Patrick why he was at iGovern. He explained that he went to a TeenPact event a few months ago. It was the first political program he had ever attended, and he was hooked. Another TeenPact student told him about Generation Joshua and iGovern, and after getting home, he visited www.GenerationJoshua.org and read about iGovern. “I told my mom I wanted to attend iGovern and she said yes!” he told me. Not only did he attend, Patrick was elected by his peers to be the chairman of the Gold Party on the very first day of iGovern.

I asked Patrick what he had learned at iGovern: “The major thing I learned is that being a leader isn’t about what you want, but about representing the people under you and listening to them.”

Patrick comes from a family with a long history of service in the U.S. Armed Forces, and he also wants to serve. His first choice is to work for the FBI or CIA, and he is considering the Strategic Intelligence major at Patrick Henry College. He is split between doing that or entering the U.S. Army as an officer.

I asked Patrick if he had any words of wisdom for his peers, and he told me, “It’s just what I learned here. Don’t live your life for yourself. Live as an ambassador for Christ.” When I asked him if he wanted to say anything to the adults reading this story he thought for a moment and then replied: “If your kids have a dream, don’t hold them back, especially if they can influence others. As [the apostle] Paul told Timothy, age doesn’t matter.”

I couldn’t have said it better. It’s an incredible blessing and privilege to work with so many godly young men and women, tomorrow’s citizens and leaders. We may be discouraged with the leaders we currently have in Washington, but I am convinced that God isn’t finished with America. A new dawn of freedom will rise.

If you wish to help support Generation Joshua’s non-partisan education mission, as well as more of our two upcoming iGovern Summer Leadership Camps (iGovern Pacific in California and iGovern West in Colorado), please visit our website.