Luke Harper is a seventeen-year-old student who just graduated from high school as a published author. Luke authored Josiah Road with his dad as a part of an effort to call students to stand, influence, and lead. The study was inspired by principles gleaned from the biblical account of King Josiah (2 Kings 23; 2 Chronicles 34). All the royalties from the sale of the Josiah Road resources will go into a student leadership scholarship fund, which will be used to equip and train students in the area of leadership.
I know Luke (and his dad as well), and I was excited to be able to interview him for the blog. I always like the opportunity to introduce new and young leaders. Josiah Road releases today, and is a great resource for students.
Ed Stetzer: How did the idea for the project get started?
Luke Harper: Throughout the years, my dad and I have been studying different characters in the Bible. When we started studying the life of Josiah, I realized it is a story many students have never read. I believe it's a story that every student needs to hear. It is not often that you hear of a sixteen-year-old radically changing his community for God as you do in the story of Josiah. His story is living proof that there is no limit to what God can do in and through the life of a student.
ES: What prompted you to write a Bible study on the life of Josiah?
LH: The summer of my freshman year I was attending a student leadership conference and felt led to encourage students through writing. I started blogging and discovered that I really enjoy it. Soon after that I had the idea that the story of Josiah would make a great D-Now curriculum. I talked to my dad, and we started writing about Josiah. The more I studied about this young king the more I wanted to tell others about him. My dad and I never dreamed that any of this would happen.
ES: What was the response from your friends when they found out that you were writing a Bible study at age 15?
LH: At first I did not tell anyone because I was not sure how my friends would react, but eventually word begin to spread. Some were shocked, some didn't believe me, and some thought I was joking. Some guys even questioned why I would waste my time doing such a thing. Since that time we've heard story after story of students and church leaders who are using the material. One summer a 14-year-old guy came up to me and told me that he was going to ask his youth pastor if he could teach it as a Sunday morning Bible study! Last year the principal of my Christian school decided to take the entire high school through the study on Josiah. Even my little sister has been going through it with one of her friends. They meet at Starbucks every Wednesday morning and are currently working through the material. We never thought that it would be this accepted.
ES: It was important to you that this not be just another Bible study. Why?
LH: I did not want it to be just another historical character that we read about in a study. Josiah was an absolute beast (pretty radical). At the age of eight, he started running a small country. He didn't waste time; he didn't wait till he was older to start leading. He took a stand and used his influence to lead his nation back to God. This is hard stuff - it has been a hard lesson for me! But it is life-changing! As a student works though the material, they will be challenged to take risks, seize opportunities, defy the odds, and pursue God's purpose for their lives like never before.
ES: Give us an overview of the study. What are the main points that students will take away?
LH: During the Josiah Road study's five sessions students are challenged to explore some of Josiah's "nation-leading" skills and to take a hard look at where they are personally headed in life. They also will be challenged to stop and take some time to evaluate and examine what's standing in the way of their relationship with Christ. They will learn what it means to seek God with all their heart. The Bible is full of stories about influential leaders. This study digs into the life of one of the most fascinating young leaders recorded in Scripture. Students will learn that everyone can take a stand, and everyone can use their influence to lead. My prayer is that God will call a new generation of Josiahs who will be obedient to do things for Him that no one can imagine.
ES: Why should church leaders take students through this study?
LH: Josiah's story is a unique one, in that he was given the opportunity to lead at a very young age. I believe that many students want to lead, but they are rarely given an opportunity to do so in the context of the local church. Some students may not think they have the ability to lead. Some church leaders may not think that a student is ready or willing to lead. Josiah's story is an example to both leaders and students. It is possible for students to change the world. It is my prayer that church leaders would read through the Josiah Road leaders' guide and sense a call to be part of raising up the next generation of leaders. It is also my prayer that we may never put a ceiling on what students can do. I believe there is Josiah-like potential in every single student put there by God Himself.
ES: Tell about some of the tools you guys have included in the Josiah Road resource to help church leaders?
LH: Resources for the five sessions are presented in workbook format. Each session has a "stand-alone" theme in order to provide maximum flexibility in its use. The leaders guide comes with a copy of the student guide, easy-to-use outlines, and leader helps. Bonus features include a commentary of the Scripture passages, a timeline, group activities, icebreaker game ideas, and a Scripture memory system. There are additional downloadable promotional tools online at http://josiahroad.com/. Whether church leaders are looking for a Bible study, a D-NOW curriculum, mid-week master teaching options, or camp/retreat or small group material, we have a resource for you in the Josiah Road material. No matter what format you choose, these resources are designed for students who are interested in becoming spiritual leaders in their school, church, and community. Each session has been carefully planned to ensure that each group will have a life-transforming experience.
Luke will be checking in at the blog today, so feel free to interact.