reb•e•lu•tion (reb’el lu shen) n. a teenage rebellion against the low expectations of an ungodly culture.

6/20/2006

Alabama Recap: The Rebelution Works

Not Posting Is A Hard Thing
Few things are more difficult for Alex and me than not posting. We love to share what we've been thinking about and get input, feedback, and constructive criticism. We love the way that blogging, and reading good blogs, helps us to constantly come up with ways to use this season of our lives to prepare ourselves for an entire life of doing hard, counter-cultural things for the glory of God.

Nevertheless, blogging isn't enough. At some point words become empty unless they are matched with appropriate action. The public proclamation of the ideas behind the Rebelution is meaningless unless it is met with faithful, personal practice of doing hard things in our culture of low expectations.

That is why Alex and I are always thrilled to hear your stories, because your stories prove that the Rebelution works. Blog posts are great, but they can't compare with even one story of how a commitment to "do hard things" changed a fellow young person's life, making him more effective for Christ at home, at school, at church, and in the workplace.

Today we get to share many stories -- stories from our time in Alabama -- that beautifully illustrate what can happen when young people break the shackles of cultural expectations and begin doing what God's Word and history prove they're capable of.

The Rebelution Works
In Alabama
Our time in Alabama as Grassroots Directors for four statewide campaigns for the Supreme Court was an intense 90 days of the hardest things we have ever done -- in the muggiest climate we've ever endured. But after three months of 60-80 hour work weeks, working with rebelutionaries across the country to pull off large-scale projects in short periods of time, we can proudly report that the Rebelution not only works, it thrives.

National organizations like Vision Forum and Focus On The Family have said that the Alabama Supreme Court races may have been the most important races in the nation. They were, of course, referring to the candidates and the issues involved. However, rebelutionaries should have an additional reason to view these races as significant, irregardless of the election returns; and that is the unprecedented level of teenage involvement in this historic election.

Whether it was event planning or Get-Out-The-Vote operations, graphic and web design or campaign photography and videography, there were teenagers taking on adult levels of responsibility and performing with high levels of competence. In the end, their efforts were not enough to overcome a nearly 10 to 1 spending deficit. But although they didn't meet with electoral success, what they accomplished, as teenagers, should lose none of its glory.

Today Alex and I would like to introduce to you just a few of the teenage mavericks who accomplished ground-breaking, expectation-shattering things over the past few months.

Colton Davie (Age 17): Photo & Video

Our longtime readers will recognize the name and face of Colton Davie, the young independent filmmaker who, at 16 years of age, was awarded Best Young Filmmaker at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival for his film, Bluestate - Tolerance for All.

Colton put his abilities to work on the Supreme Court races, serving as official campaign photographer & videographer. In addition to traveling with Alex and me to events across the state of Alabama, including our week-long Join the Rebelution Tour, Colton took part in video and photo shoots for television ads and conducted photo shoots for the Governor's race and all four State Supreme Court races.

Many of his photographs can be seen on Justice Tom Parker's campaign website, designed by Alex King and Jake Smith (see below).

Colton at the Alabama Supreme Court building for a field test in preparation for Justice Tom Parker's campaign announcement.
Noah (17) & Jonathan (17): Newspaper Distribution
Political blogs and newspapers around Alabama commented on a small newspaper called, The Alabama Conservative Review, which was "generously circulated" around the state in late April, seemingly overnight. They recognized that it strongly supported Justice Tom Parker and his allies and was printed by a third-party organization, Republicans for Conservative Judges. However, they never did, and never would guess that teenagers were behind the distribution blitz that blanketed most of North and Central Alabama.

Noah Sanders (pictured on left) and Jonathan Monplaisir, two fellow Christian homeschoolers and rebelutionaries, joined forces with me in orchestrating the one the largest, if not the largest, concentrated grassroots operations of Alabama's election season.

With less than two weeks to plan, we lined up food, housing, and transportation for 55 college students from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, charted eight, 9-hour newspaper distribution routes for the students to drive, and designed a detailed strategy for hitting the biggest, loudest event in Alabama: the Talladega Superspeedway NASCAR races.

By the time the dust had settled we had distributed nearly 200,000 newspapers in less than 36 hours -- at gas stations, restaurants, hotels, convenience stores, auto shops, and on the ground at Talledega -- a grassroots record not soon to be matched.

Talladega Superspeedway property covers 3,000 acres and hosts up to 750,000 NASCAR fans, twice annually.
Two out of thirty-two Route Books assembled by Noah and myself. In order keep our out-of-state college students from getting lost, these books included a route overview, directions with accompanying maps, directions with turn-by-turn maps, detailed maps for high-density drop locations, and a list of drop locations arranged in order according to distance from start.
Alex King (17) & Jake Smith (17): Web Designers
If you haven't had the privilege to witness the work of the design team over at StillThinking, you're missing out. Alex King and Jake Smith are Christian homeschool teens, fellow rebelutionary bloggers, and co-founders of the popular Regenerate Our Culture Online Magazine (ROC).

When Alex and I were asked to recommend a web design team we didn't have to think twice. StillThinking got the recommendation and the contract. The result was one of the most professional-looking campaign sites we've ever seen.

Working with us despite the hectic schedule of the campaign and the time difference (Alex King lives in Maine), the website was produced quickly, but also with a high level of quality.

www.parkerforchiefjustice.com
Heidi Bentley (17): Mobile County Coordinator
Our campaign staff often voiced the wish that we had 67 Bentley Families -- one for each county in Alabama. As County Coordinators for one of the largest counties in the state, their enthusiasm and competence was unmatched -- and heading up their efforts was 17-year-old daughter, Heidi Bentley.

Now when I first started working with Heidi, I thought she was the 24-year-old Bentley daughter, not the 17-year-old. Nevertheless, even with this misconception I was continually impressed by the competence of this young lady I had never met, but had only interacted with by phone and through email. I quickly gained the impression that she was very competent, but I didn't realize that I had misjudged her age by seven years.

By the time I discovered her real age, it was too late. Not only had she already completed many large projects, but she was serving as host for our Join the Rebelution Tour stop in Mobile County. She was reserving a facility, handling publicity, and her family was providing food and housing for our whole team -- including our driver, Nicholas Beckham, and videographer, Colton Davie. (cont'd below)

At a tour stop in south Alabama, with Emily Moore.
(cont'd) My initial response was to feel bad for demanding so much from her -- then it hit me: Not only had Heidi done everything I asked, but she did it all very well. I had expected her to possess the responsibility and competence of someone far older, and she, in turn, had exceeded my expecations.

Isn't that exactly what the Rebelution is all about? When you stop measuring ability by age and you have a young person who is motivated to do hard things, to stretch and to grow -- there is really no noticeable difference between a 17-year-old and a 24-year-old.

However, even as these thoughts went through my head, I still didn't know the whole story. Although my misconception about her age had been corrected, I still assumed that making dozens of phone calls, handing out literature and talking with people about candidates, finding and reserving facilities, etc., fell within the range of her normal extracurricular activities.

Little did I know that every assignment I threw at Heidi was a new challenge. For example, it wasn't until the end of the campaign that I learned that she was not a "phone person." In fact, her family told me that she normally avoided talking on the phone if at all possible. Nevertheless, she had been on the phone constantly for the campaign.

In an email written shortly after the campaigns ended, Heidi shared an even bigger picture of the work God had been doing in her life:
During this whole campaign God has been doing amazing things. I think I have grown more in these past few months than the whole year before!

I laughed when I first read your tour flyer. "Doing hard things" is exactly what God had begun teach me with the beginning of the campaign, and it hasn't stopped with the primaries. He has taken the perspective I had of my own capabilities and stretched it three times around a new and bigger perspective.

I think I have thoroughly shocked my family by doing things that they (and I) never imagined I would be doing. It is amazing what we can do if we will trust God enough to step out of our comfort zones!
Heidi's story is a perfect example of the ideas behind the Rebelution in action. She hadn't read the articles on our blog or come to a Rebelution conference or visited Regenerate Our Culture Online. Instead, she lived it.

Heidi's 13-year-old brother, Michael -- campaign warrior and sign-stacker extraordinaire.
The Rebelution: A Unique Movement
That's what makes the Rebelution so unique. It doesn't require a blog or a conference or a magazine. All it needs are ordinary young people who trust God enough to buck the trends of culture, step out of their comfort zone, and do hard things.

Colton Davie, Alex King, Jake Smith, Noah Sanders, Jonathan Monplaisir, and Heidi Bentley are just few examples out of hundreds of teens who joined the fight in Alabama, in big and small ways. They modeled what ordinary Christian young people are capable of when they commit to doing hard things with excellence -- whatever those "hard things" happen to be. We trust and pray that God will continue to honor them for that committment and we look forward to seeing what God will do with a generation eager to serve Him.