By Jessica Langdon
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — You might not meet the person you’re going to marry for years, Kevin Kast told a group of 7th- and 8th-grade boys at Christ the King School here May 15.
But you can start loving her right now.
Respect is the message that Kast, a missionary with Generation Life, brought to his young audience.
And part of that is focusing on respect in every relationship they have.
Kast told them about his own commitment to chastity and how it means more than ever now that he is engaged.
“Guys, I can tell you that I’ve met many guys who’ve chosen to not live a chaste life before they got married, and so many men who regret it,” said Kast. “I don’t know a single man who regrets enduring the wait.”
Melissa St. Ledger, also a Generation Life missionary, offered some “big-sisterly advice” to seventh- and eighth-grade girls at Christ the King School in Kansas City, Kan., on May 15.
She shared insights on how to live chastely and modestly in the world today and how to prepare for real love in the future.
Several days of Generation Life presentations, especially the talk on chastity, really clicked with Kristen Littleton, an eighth-grader at Christ the King.
She found it easy to relate to the speakers — who are recent college graduates — and she liked the different way in which this message was presented.
“That is amazing how you can just save yourself for the one person that you love,” said Kristen. “You may date hundreds of people, but there’s only one person that you wait for, and I really think that’s beautiful.”
In talking to the boys about authentic love and true masculinity, Kast emphasized that it’s not always easy — but it’s worth it.
“The devil might try to have you give in to temptation,” said Austin Russell, also an eighth-grader at Christ the King. “But just stick with God, and prayer is the most powerful way to stay with chastity and talk to God.”
Generation Life purposely sends young people like St. Ledger and Kast to talk to students across the country.
Just out of college, they could be the same age as siblings of the kids they’re talking to, so they’re not “outdated” as they share their pro-life message, explained Emily Ortiz, director of development with Generation Life.
The organization first started reaching out to college students in the Philadelphia area, but leaders soon realized the message they were delivering to an older audience could really benefit kids who are several years younger.
At its heart, this movement aims to end abortion by spreading a message of chastity, said Ortiz.
They meet with middle school, high school and college students.
“The witness and the personal testimony and the joy of the Generation Life missionaries is contagious and attractive to people,” said Ortiz.
As they get ready to start high school, both Kristen and Austin said they will remember what they learned from the missionaries about the value of life and chastity.
“Life is a gift,” said Kristen. “Don’t waste that gift.”
Young grads are new kind of missionary
By Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — They’re young, they’re bold and unafraid to proclaim the truths of chastity to young people.
Kevin Kast and Stephanie Brown are a different kind of missionary — youth speaking to youth, right here at home.
Kast and Brown are part of a five-person Generation Life travel team that has visited primarily junior high kids in archdiocesan Catholic schools April and part of May, on a mission to spread information about the pro-life movement and the theology of the body.
“I’m living out my dream,” said Brown, 24, from Baytown, Texas. “It’s been my dream, as long as I can remember, to be a missionary. Especially a traveling missionary.”
Brown became a Generation Life missionary after graduating from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, in 2011, with a bachelor’s in catechetics and a minor in theology.
Previously, she went on a two-week mission to China to teach the theology of the body to Chinese orphans.
“That started my love for the theology of the body,” she said. “After that trip, when I found out about Generation Life and [learned that] it was an organization steeped in those messages of real love, life, and respect of our human dignity and sexuality — I had to join that mission.”
Kast, 24, is from Roseburg, Ore. He joined Generation Life in September 2012, only a couple of days after graduating from John Paul the Great Catholic University in San Diego with an MBA in film production.
He was planning on continuing his film career in Los Angeles after graduation until he heard about Generation Life from a friend.
“My two passions in life have been Our Lord and ‘story,’ and [I wondered if] this was a step in that direction or away,” he said.
Kast said he not only wants to be a filmmaker, but one “who wants to make art that has truth, beauty and goodness in it. It seemed to me that spending a whole year devoted specifically to spreading those virtues — in person and growing in understanding of beauty, especially of chastity — was a great way for me to grow in that virtue . . . and incorporate that into story as well.”
Between the two of them, the young missionaries have covered New York City and other parts of the state, Nebraska, Minnesota, Virginia and Florida. They stayed in some places for as long as a year. Other teams are posted permanently in Philadelphia and New York City.
The seventh- and eighth-grade students have responded well to their talks.
“I think we’ve been received very positively,” said Brown. “All the students I’ve talked with have been really excited and glad to have us for the whole week. . . . We were able to plant seeds in their hearts and cultivate the soil.”
One student even asked how to become a Generation Life missionary.
“For sure, maybe when the talk starts off and I walk in, some of the guys are wondering what it’s going to be, but once we get going everyone starts leaning forward in their chairs,” said Kast.
Will their message stick?
“It stuck with me,” said Kast. “[It won’t] with everyone, but it will with those who are open.
“If we can plant that seed, the Lord will work with it.”