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Youth learn ethics, morals from church group

Danny Walker has a daunting job. He teaches Biblical morals to middle and high schoolers attending Assembly of God Church in Grass Valley.

Every Wednesday evening, Walker presides over a special service called “H2O: Quenching the thirst for the next generation” for teenagers. The aim of the service is to teach students “biblical standards so they become responsible citizens when they grow up,” Pastor Brian Johnson said.

“One of the harder things to convince young people of is sexual purity,” said Walker, youth pastor at the church. “Respect for authority is another issue.”



Lack of self-worth and the dearth of good role models are two other teenage concerns Johnson works to turn around.

Jesse Eckel, 17, is a student at Nevada Union High School who’s attended the youth service for three years. Participating in the service has made him more humble and self-assured, he said.




“Before, I was kind of sad,” Eckel said. “I wasn’t happy with myself. I was living to impress others and was never satisfied. But God has turned my life around. Some of the things I thought were O.K. then, I think aren’t right to do now.”

Eckel, however, admits he is a work in progress, fighting impulses natural to his age.

“I’m still tempted,” he said. “Being a Christian doesn’t make you a perfect person.”

Taylor Bigelow, a 17-year-old student of Forest Lake Christian School, has attended the Wednesday service for four years. It’s helped him overcome worries, pain and anger, and empowered him to say “no” to peer pressure, Bigelow said.

Bigelow recounts refusing to smoke while being on a soccer team in Roseville. He said his peers ridiculed him and shunned his company, but came around as he stuck to his resolve.

“They realized, after a while, how different I was,” he said. “They came and asked me about God and stopped smoking at the tournaments.”

The Wednesday service includes worship, talks, and indoor and outdoor games, Bigelow said.

“We’ll have guest speakers come,” Johnson said. “Our youth pastor will talk about issues he faced while growing up. We also use video clips from time to time to get the point across, as this generation is a visual generation.”

“Being a part of a church youth group has kept me accountable to my beliefs and faith,” said 22-year-old Rachel Manoguerra, a Sierra College student. “It’s encouraged me and changed my way of thinking, being in the presence of God every week.”

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To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail soumitros@theunion.com or call 477-4229.


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