Guest / Limited Access /

America's teenagers are up to something.

According to a 2005 study by the Corporation for National and Community Service, an estimated 15.5 million U.S. teens—55 percent—participate in volunteer activities. The teen volunteering rate is nearly twice the adult rate of 29 percent. Youth volunteer more than 1.3 billion hours of community service each year.

Much of that service takes place in churches raising money for the needy. Youth group fundraising efforts (volleyball marathons, 30-hour fasts) are a staple feature of local newspapers. But once in a while, the efforts of Christian youth are so extraordinary, they make national news.

Christianity Today interviewed two such teens to put some flesh on this trend.

On most basketball teams, if you only hit half of your free throws, you'll be on the bench. Unless you are playing for Hoops of Hope.

Even the team captain—Austin Gutwein, the charity's 14-year-old founder—only hits about 50 percent of his free throws. But all he cares about is that for every free throw he shoots—regardless of how many he makes—another AIDS orphan in Africa is helped.

That's the premise of Hoops of Hope, which Austin founded at age nine after watching a World Vision video about AIDS in Africa. The story focused on a little Zambian girl who had lost her parents to AIDS.

"She was alone, living in a mud hut, huddling under a tarp in the rain," says Austin, who lives with his family—parents Dan and Denise and sister Brittany, 13—in Mesa, Arizona. "It was incredibly sad. I started thinking what life would be like if I lost my parents, and I couldn't imagine that.

"I felt like God was telling me to do something."

2,057 free throws

So Austin started what he calls a "shoot-a-thon." ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only The Advent of Humility
Jesus is the reason to stop concentrating on ourselves.
RecommendedWhy Tim Keller, Max Lucado, and Hundreds of Evangelical Leaders Oppose Trump’s Refugee Ban
Why Tim Keller, Max Lucado, and Hundreds of Evangelical Leaders Oppose Trump’s Refugee Ban
Regardless of court fight’s final outcome, fewer persecuted Christians will make it to America under president’s plan.
TrendingAll 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
More than 3,000 employees in 36 states will be laid off in the liquidation of one of the world’s largest Christian retailers.
Editor's PickMy Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
My Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
But only after I went to Japan in search of his life story.
Christianity Today
Youth with a Vision
hide thisDecember December

In the Magazine

December 2008

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.