According to the United States Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, more than 70 million Americans, about 1 in 4, are younger than 18, the age group commonly referred to as juveniles. This age group has increased consistently since the mid-1980s and is projected to continue increasing until at least 2015.

Law enforcement agencies refer approximately two-thirds of all arrested youth to a court with juvenile jurisdiction for further processing. Juvenile courts formally process nearly 1 million delinquency offense cases annually. Juvenile courts adjudicate these cases and may order probation or residential placement, or they may waive jurisdiction and transfer certain cases from juvenile court to criminal court.

This is not exactly the kind of news that makes you think positively about what the future might hold. But despite the negative news that often surrounds today’s youth, there are a few bright spots on the horizon. Especially right here in Oklahoma.

Under the direction of BGCO Student Mobilization and Evangelism Specialist James Lankford, 220 Oklahoma youth are giving up a portion of their summer to serve overseas as short-term GO Student missionaries.

Unlike many youth who struggle to keep from serving time behind bars, GO Students have worked hard to raise the more than $3,000 needed to serve the Lord on the mission field overseas. They will serve in some of the most diverse communities in the world. They will do so without compensation, driven only by their desire to bring the message of Jesus Christ to the lost in Europe’s United Kingdom.

Don’t let the glamorous sound of Europe fool you. This is no tourist trip. The trip will be physically and spiritually tough. Before the students even leave Oklahoma, they will have to endure two days of rigorous boot camp training at Falls Creek. Everything that happens at base camp serves to help prepare GO Students for their cross-cultural missions experience. The focus is on team building, spiritual preparation and training.

The goal of the GO Students experience is to equip students for ministry. The days will be long and tiring, but the results for the Kingdom are sure to be incredible. Students will work alongside career IMB missionaries who live in the field and are adept at handling situations that might arise in that environment. Some Go Students will prayer walk, build relationships and backpack to villages, while others will be involved in church planting with missionaries.

As with any missions trip, there is always a concern for safety. However, leaders work closely with missionaries to monitor and evaluate the political and physical environment of an area before GO Students travel to a location. Students are required to follow strict guidelines designed to help insure their safety.

For most GO Students, this will be their first time to be on an international mission experience. The Baptist Messenger is calling on all Oklahoma Baptists to be in prayer for the GO Student teams while they are serving on the international mission field between June 28 and July 8 as well as July 12 through July 22.

Pray specifically for their safety, health and that God would find them effective as they seek to share the Gospel with the lost.