97-Year-Olds are Not Exempt

Kara Powell

I love a good story, and often when I speak about Sticky Faith, folks come up to me afterwards with story about the power of intergenerational relationships.

Recently I was speaking in Orlando at a conference convened by the Forum of Bible Agencies.  Afterwards, a man (who I would guess was in his 60s) introduced himself to me and said, “I need to tell you about my mom.”  He proceeded to tell me that he just buried his 97 year-old mom last month.

“Now normally, there aren’t many folks who show up for funerals of 97 year-olds, but my mom’s was different.  The place was packed.

Standing near her casket was a 17 year-old who I didn’t recognize, so I introduced myself to him.  I asked him, ‘Are you here with your parents?’

‘No,’ he answered, ‘my parents aren’t here.  But I’ve known your mom since I was 8 years old.  She said when I was 8 that she would be praying for me, and she’s been praying for me for the last 9 years.  Whenever I needed encouragement or a bit of mentoring, I would talk with her at church and she would give it to me.  It has meant so much to me to know that your mom has been praying for me.  I’m going to miss her so much.’”

Did you catch that there was an 80 year difference between the 97 year-old and the 17 year-old?  Did you catch how much that relationship meant to the 17 year-old?  I’m guessing it meant quite a bit to the 97 year-old also.

If you’re wondering where to start in surrounding teenagers with intergenerational relationships, there might be a 97 year-old or a 67 year-old looking for a way to invest themselves in younger people but not knowing how to do that.  Maybe you can invite them to pray for the teenagers you know and open a Sticky Faith relational door bigger than you can imagine.

Published Nov 15, 2011
Kara Powell

Kara Powell, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. As a youth ministry veteran of over 20 years, she serves as an Advisor to Youth Specialties. Named by Christianity Today as one of "50 Women You Should Know", Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books including Sticky Faith, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.

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