In the News
group magazine: May-June, 2008
by stephanie martin
youth evangelist uses in-your-face tactics
PARAMUS, NJ—Justin Fatica says shock tactics are the best way to grab kids’ attention. So when he speaks to them about Jesus, he’s passionate, aggressive, and brutally honest. Through his Hard As Nails ministry, Fatica, 29, screams at and humiliates teenagers, hoping to “motivate” them into Christianity. The drill-sergeant approach, he says, is part of his effort to raise up “warriors for the Lord.”
Fatica asks an audience member to hit him in the back with a metal chair while he describes the suffering Jesus endured for us. “If you sin, you better have the courage to bash Jesus’ face in!” Fatica yells. He also tells girls they’re fat to point out how hurtful it is to categorize people. Hard As Nails, which strives to “bring the message of Jesus Christ in intense and dynamic ways,” was recently featured in an HBO documentary. Director David Holbrooke says Fatica has “a real message of love” but worries that people might take his tactics too far.
Sources: Newsweek, abcnews.go.com, hanm.org
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How do you think kids feel after hearing Fatica’s message? Could this ministry’s aggressive approach be effective for some? Why or why not? Jesus got really hot with the Pharisees sometimes—do screaming and intimidation have a place in the Christian life? Is it okay to scare or humiliate people to make an important point? Why or why not?
Was Jesus an in-your-face evangelist? Explain. How did he confront people about their sins? Do we need to be made aware of our sins before we realize we need a Savior? If so, how should that happen?
When you sin, do you ever consider how it makes God feel? If so, explain. What motivates you to have a relationship with Jesus? Do you view yourself as a “warrior” for God? Why or why not?
Scripture links: Isaiah 53:3-7; Matthew 21:12-13; John 8:1-11; Romans 3:9-20; and 1 John 4:18.
Watch the YouTube video at the official hanm.org site.
high school students seek maternity leave
DENVER—Pregnant teenagers are asking Denver Public Schools for at least four weeks of maternity leave so they can have time to heal and bond with their babies. Many area schools now give new moms unexcused absences starting the day after they’re discharged from the hospital.
Nicole Head, a counselor at East High School, calls it “unacceptable” to be “punishing” girls like that. She told the school board the policy is unfair and inconsiderate. School board member Michelle Moss was shocked to learn how young moms were being treated. “We’ve got to look at the birth-control issues and teen pregnancy and how we best help them deal with it and still graduate,” she says.
Each year there are about 750,000 teenage pregnancies in America. Only 40 percent of those moms get a high school diploma, and only 1.5 percent get college degrees before age 30. Almost 80 percent of teenage moms end up on welfare. Some principals don’t allow day care centers in schools, saying that will encourage teenage pregnancy. But advocate Lori Casillas says there’s no evidence of that. “Schools need to say, ‘This is what we do to support your learning,’ ” she says.
Source: Denver Post, teenpregnancy.org
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What’s your reaction to the policy of giving new moms unexcused absences? Should teenage mothers receive maternity leave from school? Why or why not? Would offering maternity leave seem like a special privilege for these students?
How should schools support teen moms? Explain. Why the high number of teen pregnancies? Can teenagers be good parents? Why or why not? How are pregnant teens treated at your school?
Scripture links: Psalm 119:9; Proverbs 31:8-9; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 6:36-38; and James 1:27.
stephanie is a contributing editor for group and writes weekly Breaking News discussion starters for group’s online resource MinistryandMedia.com. She’s a freelance writer and editor in Colorado.
BOOK—The Know-It-All, A.J. Jacobs
MUSIC—Like, totally anything ’80s.