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Steph Martin

Stephanie Martin, a writer and editor in Colorado, has 20 years of Christian publishing experience.

In The News

Lexington, Ky.—In a disturbing and dangerous trend, teenagers are receiving serious burns while trying to prove their bravery. “Fire challenge” videos posted on YouTube and other social-media sites show young people putting accelerant on their skin, lighting themselves on fire, and then trying to quickly extinguish the flames.

Authorities across the country are warning about the disfiguring and deadly consequences of this fire challenge. Several teenagers have received serious burns while trying the stunt.

“What they don’t show at the end of the videos is the consequences of doing this, getting second- and third-degree burns,” said fire captain Chris Harrod.

When 16-year-old Fernando Valencia did the fire challenge, he burned his waist and neck. He posted a video of those burns to warn his peers. Fernando said he’d watched other people fail the challenge and thought he could “last longer under the flame.” He added, “I can’t really say nothing else besides it was a dumb idea.”

A 15-year-old Kentucky boy who’s being treated for burn wounds said he “wasn’t thinking, really” when he lit himself on fire.

In an editorial, Andres Jauregui wrote that it’s “time to start thinking really, really hard.” He asked, “How does this not go wrong?”

Burn-unit psychologist Brad Jackson said burn injuries are “incredibly painful and emotionally challenging. There is a tremendous risk of infection.”

As for why young people would subject themselves to a challenge involving flames, Jackson said, “There are a lot of reasons. Sometimes it’s curiosity. Sometimes it’s more about thrill-seeking.  Sometimes it’s really a cry for help.”

Sources: local10.com, huffingtonpost.com, nydailynews.com, abcnews.go.com, denverpost.com

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Discussion Questions for Student Small Groups

What have you been hearing about the fire challenge? Do you know anyone who’s tried it—or been tempted to try it? If so, what did you tell them?

Why do you think this game has become so popular, despite the risks? Why does danger appeal to so many teenagers? How would you try to talk someone out of a risky act?

Do you think warnings from authorities and news of people’s serious injuries will deter kids from trying the fire challenge? make them more likely to do it? Explain.

Why do you suppose people frequently act without considering the consequences? What are the potential pros and cons of acting on an impulse?

What’s the best way to encourage teenagers to stop and think before doing something that’s potentially dangerous? Do kids sometimes just need to learn from experience? Explain.

What, if anything, does engaging in risky behavior say about someone? Does it make you brave? Why or why not? When people dare you to do something, what goes through your mind?

Is it wrong to take chances with your body—for example, engaging in extreme sports? Where do you draw the line between pushing yourself and playing it safe?

Think of a time when you acted recklessly, without considering possible consequences to either yourself or others. How did the situation turn out? What lessons did you learn?

What does bravery look like to you? What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done, and where did you find the strength to do it?

What kind of risky or brave actions does Jesus want us to take? How can we step out in faith, even when we might face consequences for doing so?

Scripture links: Proverbs 1:7; Matthew 10:28; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Corinthians 16:13; 2 Timothy 1:6-12; and Hebrews 13:6.

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