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Modern day Heroes, Anti-Heroes and simply Famous

What makes someone a hero? Are they perfect in every way, like Superman? Or, are they flawed like the rest of us? And what about the anti-hero, those who have deep flaws and yet at times display great courage and make a stand for what is right? Where do we see these people around us, and what can we learn from them? And, what about those who are famous and lost of people follow them but are not heroes at all?

Rationale

The Bible is full of people from whose lives we can learn to walk in faith. Beginning with Jesus, these examples stand out as examples of what it means to be what God has called us to be, as well as displaying the flaws and failings we all face. In Church History we also see many great people who have lived in faith and left behind them a great legacy. In them we also see ourselves and see how we too might walk with God. The focus in this unit is on contemporary heroes of faith, meaning from the start of the 20th century until now (the more contemporary the better), including those who are flawed and in need of redemption, the so called 'anti-hero’. Our modern world, however, also has those who are simply famous because they are talented, and who many people follow, and yet they are not heroes at all. In addition, while some heroes are well known, most are never acknowledged by others, but do their work quietly for only God to see. There are many around us all the time, if we would only stop to see.
 
Note: Not all modern day heroes are Christian, but the values they embody may be be Christian. This is because the world has been so heavily affected by the example of Christ as spread by the Church, that there is scarcely anywhere where it it has not made some impact.

Key Concepts

  • What does it mean to be a hero?
  • In the the Bible what constitutes someone as a hero of faith?
  • What makes Jesus the ultimate super hero? Is it his power or something else?
  • What can we learn from the examples in the Bible? E.g. Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Paul
  • What about those who had great flaws and yet were still used by God, how do they fit into the picture? E.g Samson, Peter (denied Christ!)
  • What about today? Who are the heroes? The anti-heroes? The simply famous?

Scripture References

See Unit on Biblical Heroes for summary of the kind of virtues a Hero should have

The Gospels for Jesus

Matthew 5:2-16 and Galatians 5:22,23 for a overview of the kid of person God want us to be, but all of the Bible is needed to fill in this picture

Hebrews 11 - the great list of Bible heroes

Book of Judges - a book full of flawed heroes, who yet were used by God (see esp. Samson)
1 and 2 Samuel - David a true hero of God, who nevertheless failed terribly and then returned to God and found forgiveness
Matthew 26:69-75 with John 21:15-19- Peter denies Jesus, and Jesus restores Peter

Resources

http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/dictionaries/ - dictionary articles on characters from the Bible and more
http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/heroes-of-the-faith/ - timeline with people and events of importance noted with brief supporting articles
Friends and Heroes website for kids - commercial site with many videos
http://www.christiantoday.com/article/the.60.most.influential.christians/29592.htm - list with short background information on 60 important contemporary Christians. They are broken up into categories, which will allow assessment for suitability. The list includes names that some will not agree are really Christian, so use carefully
http://www.ranker.com/list/celebrities-who-are-born-again-christians/celebrity-lists?page=2 - interesting list of celebrities who have turned to Christ. May not be conservative in outlook but identify as Christian
http://www.christianadvice.net/famous-christians/ - another interesting list, some not so well know names here
http://christianity.about.com/od/christiancelebrities/ss/famouschristians.htm#step7 - sporting hero (this is from a list of 12, not all of which are useful)
Note: There are many Christian making important contributions to all areas of life. Some areas would not appeal to students, e.g. politics, theology, philosophy, but others would have more appeal, for example music, science, sport and so on. Searches can be conducted by focusing on the area. For example, for Missions work see:
http://www.librarypoint.org/jane_kurtz - for one person’s story
 
 

Some Modern Day Heroes:

  • Bono
  • Amy Carmichael
  • Ben Carson
  • Jim Elliot and his wife
  • Joni Ericson-Tada
  • Bethany Hamilton
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Mother Teresa
  • Desmond Tutu
Ideas/Strategies for Lessons
Students generate a list of currently famous people, for any reason, they examine them according to the question, what is a true hero? How does the world answer this question? What does the Bible say?
Students can choose who they want to focus on, looking at their faith, their strengths and their weaknesses
Listen to music of Christian or non-Christian artists and discuss how their music reflects their faith (Note: needs to be age appropriate)
Look at this who are famous, but not heroes. Why do we follow them?
Heroes do not have to be well known. There are local heroes who have a story to tell. Arrange a visit or perhaps a Skype link up.
There are many Missions organizations - instead of looking at individuals, you could look at Organisations which are doing heroic work and have many heroes as it were