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Awana Launches National Campaign to Tackle Crisis Among Today's U.S. Youth

Contacts: Don Beehler, 615-566-0776, dbeehler@ctcreative.com; Jill Fisher, 630-540-4561, 847-533-7464 cell, JillF@Awana.org


ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 28 /Christian Newswire/ -- Awana, an international ministry that helps children and youth grow spiritually by learning to apply the Bible to their lives, has launched a national media campaign called Project Joseph to help kids, parents and churches work together to develop strong "spiritual champions" for Jesus Christ. The initiative was unveiled January 25 at the Children's Pastors Conference in Orlando, Fla.


The campaign is modeled after Joseph of the Old Testament, who maintained his faith in spite of challenging circumstances. It features a life map for growing kids spiritually that plots out critical milestones to raising a Modern Day Joseph, while allowing for the uniqueness of each child.


Joining Awana officials in making the announcement was Pat Williams, Senior Vice President of the Orlando Magic and author of a book about Joseph called Unsinkable. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner provided videotaped remarks to open the event.


"The parallels between Joseph and today's youth are striking," Williams said. "I believe God has provided the ministry of Awana, with its global resources and nearly 60 years of experience, 'for such a time as this.'"


"Joseph is a spiritual champion who demonstrated integrity, courage, wisdom, forgiveness and faith. We believe there is great value in holding up such a flesh-and-blood example of what it means to follow Christ," added Jack Eggar, President and CEO of Awana. "Traditional approaches are not working -- it's time for a change."


Larry Fowler, Executive Director of Global Training for Awana and author of Rock-Solid Kids, presented an overview of the crisis among children and youth, citing studies that show one in two teens will abandon the church after high school. According to Fowler, too many 21st-century youth are looking like another young man who left home -- the prodigal son -- rather than Joseph as they enter adulthood.


"The culture of our churches and homes must change to reflect God's mandate that parents are first responsible for the spiritual training of children. The Joseph biography recorded in Genesis provides a model desperately needed by parents and children's and youth workers alike," said Fowler, whose new book, Raising a Modern-Day Joseph, will be available in February. He also announced results of an independent study of Awana alumni conducted in November 2007 by suburban Chicago-based CTCreative.


The study found Awana to be as important to a participant's spiritual foundation as the rest of the church's activities combined. "Young people who have been consistent in their Awana participation are more committed to the literal truth of Scripture and therefore are more firmly grounded in the fundamental doctrines of their faith," Fowler noted. The study also found that Awana has helped instill a servant's heart years beyond participation in the program. This is evidenced by findings that at every level, Awana alumni volunteer at much higher levels when compared to a national sample of those who do volunteer work in their churches.


For more information about Project Joseph, visit www.moderndayjoseph.org or call 877-HI-JOSEPH. Each week, more than a million children and youth are involved in Awana through 17,000 churches worldwide.


Awana is the only organization with fully integrated evangelism and discipleship programs for kids from ages 2 to 18 that actively involve parents, church leaders and mentors. For nearly 60 years, Awana has been a leader in children's ministry by helping children and youth know, love and serve Christ.