As a part of its effort to call students to “influence, stand and lead,” the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission announced a new partnership with NavPress and Student Leadership University in promoting the ERLC’s Josiah Road initiative.
Josiah Road was launched in 2007 as an Internet-based Life . It has expanded into a suite of products, including a five-week Bible study, weekend discipleship kit and trade book.
Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and Jay Strack, president of Student Leadership University, announced the new relationship between the university, ERLC and NavPress. The announcement came at a Student Leadership University event at the National Press Club in Washington, on July 16.
Student Leadership University works to equip and empower students to change their world for Christ through a series of intensive, hands-on educational efforts. The ERLC partners with SLU in their student education work in Washington.
Land said the Josiah Road resources focus on the biblical account of Josiah, “one of the greatest young leaders ever to come along in history.” The Southern Baptist Convention(SBC) executive emphasized that much of the Josiah Road material was written “by a young person for young people.”
SLU was instrumental in expanding the Josiah Road initiative, Land said. He said that its innovative Life helped high-school student Luke Harper sense that God was leading him to write and speak.
At the SLU conference, Strack explained Luke’s role further: “One of our students felt led to begin to make a difference, and now it has resulted in an exciting project and a fascinating product that churches and Christian schools are using across the country,”
Luke and his father, Harold Harper, executive vice president at the ERLC, authored the study and its various components. The spiritual development initiative is based on the life of Josiah, who became ruler of the Southern Kingdom of Judah at the age of eight.
At the time of King Josiah’s reign, people were corrupt, and worshipped idols and false gods. The account tells of the boy king’s faithfulness as he led his people back to the one true God.
Land encouraged the students to follow Josiah’s lead and not shrink from serving God. “Don’t put limits around what God may want to do in your life,” he said.
Luke noted that Baptist Press students will be introduced to a powerful Bible character through the study, adding that those who truly grasp the Josiah Road message will be the “students who will exceed expectations in doing what God has called them do.”
Luke described Josiah as a young man not afraid to call his nation back to God.
“Everyone has a chance to be a positive influence on someone else, everyone can take a stand, and everyone can lead,” Luke said, recounting the Bible study’s three-part focus. “My prayer is that, out of all this, God will call a new generation of Josiahs who will be obedient to do things for Him that no one can imagine.”
Said Strack, “Those who dare to travel along this Josiah Road will be taking one of the most exciting journeys possible. Students who study and gain an appreciation for the obstacles facing King Josiah will be motivated to also allow Jesus to make a difference in their life, their family and their community.”
“When students decide to participate in Josiah Road,” Harold Harper said, “they will be challenged to take risks, seize opportunities, defy the odds and pursue God’s purpose for their life like never before.”
The weekend discipleship segment of the resource was field-tested at First Baptist Church of Atlanta, as well as at several other SBC churches. Maclane Forbus, student ministries pastor at Florida Baptist Convention Atlanta, said he liked the study and the way youth responded.
“The Josiah Road Bible study is biblically sound, well-written and easy for student pastors and leaders to use in any format,” Forbus said.
NavPress, a Christian book publisher founded in 1975, will publish the Josiah Road resources.
In his remarks at the SLU event, Land noted that not only will NavPress play a large role in marketing and distributing Josiah Road resources, but also all the royalties from the sale of the products will go to SLU’s scholarship fund, to allow more students to experience the Life ‘s leadership programs.
“Our mission is to advance Josiah Road’s calling by publishing life-transforming materials,” said Barry Sneed, vice president of NavPress. “We are committed to serving people by facilitating and motivating spiritual growth through products that are biblically rooted, culturally relevant and practical.”
The five-week Bible study is designed for students and student leaders to go through in small groups. It will be available for purchase in spring 2011, in bookstores across the country. The initiative’s trade book and additional resources will be available between 2012 and 2013 for purchase. The weekend kit and related Life tools are currently available for review and purchase online at Josiah Road’s website www.josiahroad.com.
Elizabeth Wood is a writer for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, whose website is www.bpNews.org/bpNews.asp?id=33394.