There is something about this story about a “fake kidnapping” that seems strangely wrong. Not in the idea of terrorizing youth or in the idea that we are an “overly judicious” society. There is something else.
Toward the end, we get the defense:
“It was a youth event, to illustrate what others have encountered on a regular basis,” he said, adding that the focus of the lesson was “the persecuted church” in other countries.
I am struck by this simple idea:
- There are people suffering.
- We all but ignore their plight.
- We cannot replicate that plight.
- So we have no hope of better understanding that plight.
I am reminded of those hunger weekends and the experiential poverty events that allow youth to simulate the life of people they have no understanding of. There is a bit of a condescending nature to them, but there is something alive in them as well. They are an attempt on the part of the church to observe and document unfortunate circumstances: to recognize evil in our world and turn our youth from evil.
I’m pretty sure that this youth minister made a really bad mistake. And I’m also pretty sure that the response is an overreaction. But most of all, I’m just sad. Sad that these youth and their leader weren’t able to having the learning moment they needed. And worse, someone is probably going to prison for it.
And that fact seems to miss the original point entirely.