USA (MNN) – The statistics for the challenges facing urban youth are grim.
–Nearly 43 percent of urban teens drop out of high school.
–Three in 10 teen girls become pregnant by age 20. Teen moms are much more likely to drop out of high school and raise their children in poverty. Their children are two times more likely to be abused. their sons more likely to end up incarcerated, and their daughters more likely to become teen mothers themselves.
–Homicide and suicide are the second and third leading causes of death for teens ages 15 to 19. Nearly three-fourths of teen homicides stem from gang violence.
Can the Gospel change these numbers? Yes, but there are substantial obstacles to overcome in getting it into the hands and hearts of the targeted youth. YouthPartnersNet President Dean Cowles says the small-print, black-and-white pocket versions given out at street fairs and homeless meals don't get much attention from youth who either can't read, won't, or just don't.
That's why International Bible Society-Send The Light is launching the second edition of their urban youth-targeted New Testament called My City, My God on Feb. 2. Nearly 476,000 copies of the original My City, My God New Testament, including English and Spanish versions, have been distributed since its 1998 release.
Aside from the cosmetic updates on the cover, the youth-themed edition includes testimonies from teens about how Christ has impacted their lives. IBS-STL's Rich Blanco explains why they got involved. "We look at our role as a toolmaker. We have confidence that the Word of God has something to say to speak into every life situation. We just pray for the Lord to use it in many different situations."
IBS-STL collaborated with YouthPartnersNet and other ministries targeting urban youth. It's being released at the Reload Urban Youth Conference in Denver, Colorado to 300 youth ministry participants. Blaco says, "As we look at this Scripture piece, we look at it as a tool. We hope that it's going to have impact in all three of those areas, hopefully ministering to the kids before they make some life-changing decisions, or while they're in those difficult situations, or after."
<!–[endif]–> Orfeld, G., Losen, D., Wald, J., & Swanson, C., 2004. Losing Our Future: How Minority Youth Are Being Left Behind by the Graduation Rate Crisis. Cambridge, MA: The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University. Contributors: Advocates for Children of New York, The Civil Society Institute.
<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–><!–[endif]–> National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy analysis of Guttmacher Institute, U.S. Teenage Pregnancy Statistics National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity. New York: Guttmacher Institute, September, 2006.
<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–><!–[endif]–> National Center for Health Statistics, Office of Statistics and Programming, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.