FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Richard Ross, one of the worldwide True Love Waits sexual abstinence campaign’s founders, and Texas youth minister Gus Reyes have bad news.
Parents who are preoccupied with careers and social lives have emotionally abandoned their teenage children, they say. Teenagers who have been emotionally abandoned, or emotionally neglected, try to protect their wounds by pushing parents away.
The neglect of the parent and the pushing away of the teenager break the “heart connection” between them, they warn. Wounded teenagers who push parents away also push away the faith and values of their parents.
But Ross, a youth ministry professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and Reyes say they have good news in the form of a plan to help turn the hearts of parents and teenagers back to each other. They share this plan in a new book, “30 Days: Turning the Hearts of Parents and Teenagers Toward Each Other.”
30 Days is a study using a collection of cards with instructions to parents and children on what to say during sessions. One parent and one teenager commit to spend 10 minutes together each evening for 30 days opening sealed envelopes and reading the cards.
Parents and teens are called to make commitments, sign pledges and engage in a kind of ritual as they sit close to each other with one candle lighting a darkened room.
Both Ross and Reyes have used the program with their teenage children and say it works. Reyes says he and his 13-year-old son have seen “remarkable improvements” in how they relate to each other. “It has affected the whole family.
“What makes this different from other books is that it tells parents and teenagers exactly what to say and do,” Ross says. “By following the instructions on the cards, the parent and teenager say and do those things that have the most powerful potential to turn their hearts toward each other.”
Reyes earned a master’s and a doctorate in education at Southwestern and a master’s degree in management from Angelo State University. He previously worked 13 years at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn. Reyes and his family moved back to Texas last year, he says, to impact the quality of youth ministry in Hispanic churches.
“Out of 1,100 [Southern Baptist] Hispanic missions and churches in Texas, there are only two fulltime youth ministers,” Reyes says.
Working with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, he recently resurrected a summer youth camp for Hispanic teens. Five hundred teens attended the camp last summer. That number is expected to mushroom this year. Reyes also hopes to host 3,000 to 4,000 Hispanic teens at a youth congress Easter weekend. Reyes says they hope to publish 30 Days in Spanish this year.
Reyes is joining Hampton Place Baptist Church in Dallas as associate pastor for youth ministry. His brother, Albert, is president of the Hispanic Baptist Theological School in San Antonio, and another brother, Fred, is marriage enrichment team coordinator for LifeWay.
Ross recently made presentations of the 30 Days material to leaders of two national family oriented ministries. In addition, he has recently been invited to appear on Robert Schuller’s television broadcast, “The Hour of Power.”
Ross and his wife, La Juana, have served side by side in local church youth ministry for more than 30 years. He served 16 years as youth ministry consultant with LifeWay.
Ross earned a master of religious education and a Ph.D. in youth ministry from Southwestern. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Hardin Simmons University in Texas. He has written or compiled 16 books on youth ministry, many of which have been classroom texts in Southern Baptist colleges and seminaries.
Ross is well-known for serving as a founder of the True Love Waits campaign.
“I always use the term ‘spokesperson’ rather than ‘founder,'” Ross says. “God was the founder.”
Their book is available only from their new publishing venture, Josiah Press, for $19.95. To order, call 1-877-430-DAYS or visit www.josiahpress.com.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: THIRTY DAYS.