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OPINION

Josiah study calls students to take a stand

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- While hundreds of Bible studies have been published for the student market, Boyce College freshman Luke Harper is not shy in saying the study he wrote with his father Harold has a unique angle: It was written by a student.
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Harper, who just started his undergraduate studies at the Louisville, Ky., school, said the "Josiah Road" curriculum focuses on "one of the most fascinating young men in history -- King Josiah."

Luke wanted the study to be one that would appeal to friends who were used to getting together and enjoying one another's fellowship. He also wanted the study to have a powerful take away, "something that would motivate students to seek what task God has for them."

And he should know. The Josiah Road Bible study was developed as Luke took part in Bible studies as a high schooler in Middle Tennessee. In working with his dad on the project, Luke often tweaked the material and the layout to more closely align with what he believed would work in a youth setting from a student's perspective.

Luke, who studied Bible characters with his father for several years, encountered the scriptural account of the young King Josiah when he was 15. He was instantly drawn to the story of the young king. The Josiah Road study, which the Harpers originally envisioned as a Disciple Now-type curriculum, became a five-session workbook published by NavPress this summer.

"When we started studying the life of Josiah, I realized it was a story many students probably never read," Luke said. "It is not often that you hear of a teenager radically changing his community for God. Josiah's story is living proof that there is no limit to what God can do in and through the life of any person, even a student.

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"Josiah became king of a small country when he was just 8 years old," Luke added. "While he was still young, he took a stand and used his influence to lead his nation back to God. This is hard stuff. It has been a hard lesson for me, but it's life-changing and a story that every student needs to hear."

While students often are pushed to grow up too soon, especially by the media, Luke said the opposite can be true in the church.

"Some students think they don't have the ability to lead, but I believe many students want to. But they are rarely given an opportunity to do so in their churches," he said.

Harold Harper said the study is aimed at students who are interested in becoming spiritual leaders in their schools, churches and communities.

"We are hopeful students will be inspired by generational wisdom, experience and reflection by those who have walked before them," he said, noting students will be challenged to take "a hard look at where they are headed in their season of life."

Each session has a standalone theme for maximum flexibility. The study is equally suitable for a weekend retreat, weekly meetings or a small group study.

Harold Harper emphasized the importance of raising up students to become spiritual leaders.

"We have written every session of Josiah Road with two aims in mind: to challenge students to evaluate their relationship with Christ and seek Him with all their heart, and then realize that each of them can take a stand for Christ and have influence in their families, schools, churches and communities."

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He and his son took three years to work through the story of Josiah and then write the study.

"We've spent a lot of time in prayer for the people who will use it. We pray that, like us, every one of them will have a life-transforming experience," Harold Harper said.

The resources were field tested and reviewed at various stages before publication. Student pastors and nationally recognized ministry leaders gave the material strong reviews.

"Josiah Road is an engaging, fast-paced, winsome and substantive tool to encourage a new generation of Christians to consider our obligations to the world around us in the name of the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus," Russell Moore, dean of the school of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said. "It provokes both thought and action."

Youth evangelist Tony Nolan said, "This is not your parent's study -- nothing preachy, boring or dorky here. It's filled with the goods to help you enjoy today and reach your future goals faster and easier. And it's filled with a bonus: Through it God will use you to rock our nation for His glory."

The leader's guide comes with a copy of the student guide and leader helps including Scripture commentary, group activities, icebreaker ideas and a Scripture memory system. A downloadable Josiah Road Weekend Kit, built around the D-Now model, is available, at josiahroad.com. Promotional materials for the study also are online.

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All of the royalties from sales are being donated to the Student Leadership University scholarship fund. The goal of SLU is to "equip, motivate, enable and empower students for present and future leadership in their schools, churches, teams, families and workplaces."

Compiled by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission staff.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net

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