The truth is that our lives have been profoundly impacted by the writings of the great British scholar, C.S. Lewis. And his 7-book series, The Chronicles of Narnia changed our lives. The central figure in these books is ASLAN, the Lion of Narnia! The books are the tales of several English children and their adventures in a “different world” called Narnia. In this different world, Aslan is the “son of the great emperor;” and in the second book of the series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Aslan comes to sacrifice himself for the people of Narnia and is resurrected as the powerful ruler of all. As we were choosing a name for our ministry, Aslan fit perfectly!
A better question than “what” is Aslan is who is Aslan? The same question was posed to C.S. Lewis by an 11-year-old girl from America named Hila. In the book the “Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” Aslan the Lion tells the children that in “this world,” he has another name. Hila asked Lewis what that name might be, and in a letter to her he responded this way:
“As to Aslan’s other name, well I want you to guess. Has there never been anyone in this world who (1) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas; (2) said he was the son of the great Emperor; (3) gave himself up for someone else’s fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people; (4) came to life again; and, (5) is sometimes spoken of as a Lamb…. Don’t you really know His name in this world? Think it over and let me know your answer!”
While Lewis wrote the books to entertain us, author Peter Schakel writes in Reading Into the Heart, The Way Into Narnia:
“The audience grows to love Aslan and everything that he symbolizes; they begin to wish for someone like Aslan in this world. After finding this love for Aslan, they will ideally transfer that love to Christ . . . .”
Perhaps an organization should always be “branded” by what they wish to accomplish. For Aslan Youth Ministries, our hearts’ desire is that the students and families we serve would understand the permanent change that occurs when we come to grab hold of the love of God. And this can happen in a multitude of ways – learning to do better in school, learning to control your anger, learning to love others and care about their needs above your own. In Lewis’ books, Aslan the Lion is ever present, and his deepest hope is that those he encounters will understand the power of relationship and the power of his love. The number one core value of our ministry is that we are “relationally driven.” Like the Lion in Narnia, our hope is to show our students in whom their hope can lie. This is not done overnight or in a one-time conversation. It takes years and years to undo the damage done to the little ones we serve. Change comes slowly – through a journey. Usually, the journey is a long one; but Aslan is always there to help every step along the way!