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Published: Saturday, 6/10/2006

Evangelist campaigns to save U.S. teens

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
Luce Luce
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America s teenagers are under attack and evangelist Ron Luce is sounding a battle cry.

There s definitely a battle going on for the hearts and souls and minds of this young generation. They re caught in the middle of this battle, said Mr. Luce, who will be in the Toledo area June 17 for a BattleCry Rally at Cathedral of Praise. Performing at the free rally with be northwest Ohio Christian rock band Broken Yoke.

This generation is the largest in American history, Mr. Luce said, and teens are being hammered by people imparting horrible values, ramming violence and sexuality down their throats.

The founder and president of Teen Mania Ministries, Mr. Luce is fighting on a number of fronts.

He has written 22 books, including Guard Your Heart and Battle Cry for My Generation: The Fight to Save Our Friends and has brought his youth-oriented message to more than 50 countries.

He presents 32 Acquire the Fire youth events in stadiums around the country each year, with Christian rock and multimedia presentations. The April rally at Detroit s Ford Field drew more than 50,000 people.

Mr. Luce also hosts a TV program called Acquire the Fire that reaches 600,000 North American teens and is shown in 200 nations on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, Sky Angel, the Inspirational Network, and other outlets.

The long list of Teen Mania activities includes Global Expeditions, which sends 5,000 teens on mission trips to 26 countries annually, and Extreme Summer Camps on Teen Mania s 472-acre campus in Garden Valley, Texas.

Mr. Luce, 44, said he was raised in a broken home and ran away when he was 15. He became involved in drug and alcohol abuse until he found Jesus at age 16.

He and his wife, Katie, founded Teen Mania in 1986 with a dream of running a youth ministry that reaches teenagers and helps them steer away from negative influences.

What kind of America are we giving kids? It s time for every God-fearing American to stand up and go to bat for these kids.

We re not going to let the kids be destroyed before they even get a chance. The Battle Cry movement is to wake up America, to let them really know what s happening to our young generation, to stir people up to act in their local community, to reach out to kids and get them involved in a local ministry.

Mr. Luce said some people hesitate to volunteer for youth ministries because they feel they can t relate to teenagers.

You don t have to have piercings or tattoos, he said. Can you love them? Can you cook a meal for them? A lot of kids don t even know their own grandparents. It s going to take a lot of us rallying to their rescue.

He said his goal is to get 100,000 churches to double their youth group each year for the next five years.

Teen Mania also uses high-tech Web sites and media to reach the generation, not because of the technology itself but because that s what it takes to communicate with teenagers today, Mr. Luce said.

We need to save them from what we call the virtual terrorists. There are people who are losing sleep figuring out how they can make money off our kids. It doesn t matter to them how low they have to stoop as long as they get the dollars or the ratings.

That s all they care about. As a result, they re raping and pillaging any moral values.

Mr. Luce said American society has become increasingly open to immoral behavior.

We quote-unquote have become such a tolerant society that we are accepting things today that somebody would have been thrown into jail for 30 years ago.

Some examples, he said, include the MTV Awards in 2003 when Madonna kissed Britney Spears.

Everything went BOOM! We just lowered our standards five steps. And then the Super Bowl halftime with Janet Jackson. BOOM. The level of acceptability just changed again.

Mr. Luce said he is not concerned about political correctness.

Not one bit. What we re about is rescuing young people who are being destroyed for the sake of cash.

When he and his wife founded Teen Mania Ministries, their goal was to raise up an army of young people who will follow God and have faith.

Even though the ministry has reached millions of teens around the world, he said I still think about how many kids are unreached.

BattleCry Toledo will be at 6 p.m. June 17 on the campus of Cathedral of Praise, 3000 Strayer Rd., Maumee. Information; 419-882-8463.



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