Kids in Japan and other countries

Kara Powell | Mar 18, 2011

As we watch and pray about the natural and nuclear disaster in Japan this week, this summary of research on Youth, Religion and Globalization seems to hit home. Funded by a grant from the Lilly Endowment, researchers from 8 different countries (the United States, Japan, Germany, Ghana, Russia/Ukraine, India, Argentina & Paraguay) explored the effects of globalization on teenagers’ experience of religious faith.

As you might imagine, this summary posted by the Center for Youth Ministry Training highlights some of the interesting unique aspects of faith development in these countries. Yet there are some interesting themes that cut across the various countries, including cross-generational discontinuity and the love/hate relationship with the pervasiveness of American culture around the world.

Of the common themes, I was especially struck by how researchers noticed the theme of both hope and despair. As you talk with teenagers this week in light of what is happening in Japan, you might want to ask them:

1. How would you feel if you were a teenager living in Japan right now?

2. What would give you hope?

3. What would fill you with despair?

4. What would you want to say to someone your age living in Japan?

5. What ideas do you have for how we can show folks in Japan that we care?

As the omnipresent news reminds us of how events in Japan affect us all, this research is timely in reminding us of our common experiences around the world.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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