Frank Stanley

The way I look at life has completely changed. I’m much more intentional in my thinking and interactions with the people around me.


Why did you attend the program?

I attended the Youth Theological Initiative (YTI) because I was struggling at the time with my faith and wanted to gain a new perspective so that I could better understand why we do the things we do in religious practices. I was also interested in gaining a theological perspective on social justice issues since my school doesn’t really explore those “touchy” subjects.


How was your experience during the event? 

It was eye-opening. My expectations were very low, and I honestly thought it was going to be some shallow exploration answering some of the more obvious questions. Once I got there, however, I was blown away at how deep into conversations we would dive, asking questions students usually wouldn’t think to ask in a normal classroom. I felt a sense of camaraderie as we spent more time talking and diving into concepts that you wouldn’t even think about if you weren’t pushed. It’s a time I don’t think I could ever forget. 


What were some of the changes you noticed after? 

The way I look at life has completely changed. I’m much more intentional in my thinking and interactions with the people around me, interpreting, analyzing and examining people’s words, actions and demeanor. I look at the world in small systems now, rather than thinking there’s this one superpower governing us all. Now, I don’t determine how I should treat people. Now, I give people my respect and try to do good by them, regardless of who they are.


What did you learn about yourself, the world, or ministry at this time?

I learned how ignorant I was of the world. I learned that the world is constantly changing and how much people of all walks of life truly intersect with each other. I learned that I have a duty as a young person to contribute my energy to those who need it most: those within my community.


Do you feel better equipped for the future after attending? 

I do feel better equipped because I feel more sensitive to what’s going on around me and I’m able to communicate my thoughts more effectively than I used to.


What was the best thing about attending?

The best thing for me is that they break the typical hierarchy of teacher and student. Rather, they come with the notion of “we are all here to learn together and learn from each other.” I believe that’s what encouraged me to be able to be open and expressive about what I was thinking, which helped me have the best experience that I could.


What advice would you give to someone who wanted to attend?

Be prepared to be pushed intellectually and morally. There are going to be concepts you may not understand, or there may come a time when a question is asked that makes you look at something from a different view.

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