Jesus said, "He that believes in me, as the scriptures had said, out of his belly will flow rivers of living water" John 7:38
I firmly believe that the younger generation should be allowed to actively participate in outreach ministries because they are available, they are at an impressionable age, they are very energetic, most of them are very healthy, and have less pressing responsibilities (Ecclesiastes 12). Young people from ages 13-24 could use their multi-tasking skills and energy to reach their peers. They could influence youngsters of their age better than the older, more seasoned preachers.Today, we are experiencing tremendous problems with our young people in our home circles, social circles and in educational institutions. These problems include drugs, sexual promiscuity, alcohol, suicide attempts, gang affiliations and activities, and crime, just to name a few. It is evident that the devil finds it most rewarding to recruit young people to fulfill his plan to destroy the lives of people. If these trends continue, the future of our societies would be in question. We are already experiencing high birth defects rates, infertility, miscarriages, overcrowded correctional facilities, large increase of hospitals and clinics, and alarming school drop-out rates, due to a lack of holistic education. (Proverbs 29:18; Hosea 4:6)
These problems among the young generation not only signal a troubling future for our society but they also create a tremendous economic burden on our economy. There is also a reason why the government enlists only young people for military service. They are more physically and mentally able to carry out the mission of that country. The older people are burdened down with too many obligations like family, property, employment, preparation for retirement and financial responsibilities. These obligations make it more difficult for them to focus fully on any kind of mission, especially that of Christ's. The Apostle Paul said that it requires a certain amount of freedom to successfully perform the will of God.
1 Corinthians 7: 32-35
32 “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33But a married man is concerned about his commitments—how he can please his wife— 34Therefore, his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of her household—how she can better please her husband. 35I am giving you good and sound advice, not to restrict you, but that you may live with an undivided devotion to the Lord.”
Pastoral teams should pay more attention to these facts and steer their resources towards empowering these younger disciples for God’s service. This is the age when they are struggling to find their identity. Do not let negative influences define them. Pastors should stop limiting these young people to pizza parties, pool parties, games, concerts and summer camps. They live in a real world with real issues that they have to solve when they get older. It is time for them to be prepared just like we are preparing them for the world of employment. If we do not use them, the devil will and has been very successful in doing so. They are not brainless, spineless empty heads looking for fun or for trouble. Governments of the world select men and women between the ages 18-25, to serve in the military forces with the trust and responsibility of protecting their countries using their intelligence, knowledge, strength, courage and ability to operate expensive and sophisticated technology, including equipment and weapons of war that costs millions of dollars. Many of them entrusted with our lives in the medical fields. This preparation starts even earlier in life with cub scouts, boy scouts, ROTC, youth corps, and youth exchange programs across the world.
1 Timothy 4:12
Let no man underestimate you because you are young; but be an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
They are also called to be disciples chosen by God to reach the unsaved. Do not limit the power of the Holy Spirit to use them. They should not be harnessed and confined to fun, games and concerts. As teenagers, my peers and I did not falter academically because of our active involvement with God’s work. As a matter of fact, we superseded our non-Christian peers in academic affairs while reaching countless numbers for Christ. I know that many parents are concerned about their children’s future and would prefer them to be prepared for a lucrative future in medicine, law, education, business, etc. But God is the one who through trust and prayers, has to protect and secure our children’s future. He just wants them to live right and share His gospel wherever they go. This is not a plea for them to quit their career plans, but to secure and enhance it. In other words, each of us should all be saying; “I believe that if everyone around me could think Christ-like as I think, the world around me would be a much better place.”
God places us in strategic places to perform his duties. I was fortunate to be an active part of a great out-pouring of God’s Spirit among the teenagers of my generation in Guyana. Because of the clear presentation and understanding of the gospel, it was not uncommon to see teenagers between the ages of 12 and 19, standing strong, preaching the gospel, organizing bible clubs in their school, and at some instances, being thrown out of their home because of the religious or non-religious beliefs of their families. We did not rely solely on pastors and elders for guidance (they believed that children should be seen and not heard), but the word of God and the Holy Spirit. We only approached them when we needed advice from the ones that were experienced in the matters we pursued.
Most of us today are still burning with the same desire to follow God. We believed that if God could use teenagers like Daniel, Shadrack, Meshach, Abednego, David, and Joseph, He could also use us. We realized that we all have to give an account of ourselves before God (Romans 14:12) and will not be able shift the blame on the pastors and other leaders.
Empowering young people to serve God meaningfully significantly reduced the statistics of crime, gang affiliation, drugs, high school dropout, and irresponsible sexual habits which often lead to pregnancy and STDs. Empowerment lifts the overall self-esteem of young people. Many of my peers of that time period, including myself are still actively serving God today My father, Evangelist Frederick James, had been a catalyst of ministry among the teenagers and young adults in Guyana, the Caribbean and he USA. He made sure that every young Christian person had the ability to minister the gospel of Christ. His two favorite scriptures were:
1. Proverbs 11:30 - “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.”
2. All of St. John 15, but with emphasis on 8 & 16.
8“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall you be my disciples”.... 16“You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you”.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore. What He did for Guyana’s youth in my day, He could do for America’s youth today and even for rest of the world. Many of us have had successful careers while sharing the gospel. We just have to ask God for the wisdom to make it possible.
In Matthew 10:16 Jesus said to his disciples;
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the middle of wolves: be you therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”
We all envisioned Daniel to be an old bearded man, but he was a young man along with the three Hebrew boys (Daniel 1)Jeremiah, Samuel, David, Mary, Jesus, and many more were all teenagers when they started serving God (Jeremiah 1:4-8). All of the children of Israel were brought out of the land of Egypt but not all of them made it to the promise land. The majority of the Israelites that made it were under 20 years old, lead by Joshua and Caleb, as was commanded by God.(Numbers 14:28-30)God is calling on this new generation to stand up and challenge the status quo in order to bring deliverance to this lost generation in whose hands the future of this world sits. It is time to move forward to the next level, eliminate our fears, obstacles, and secure our future.
In the Old Testament, Jewish young people were trained to be disciples and ministers of the Word of God that was spoken by Moses from the time they are weaned (about 3 yrs old) from their mothers (1 Samuel 1: 22-24; Luke 2: 39-51 ). They had to learn everything they needed to know about God and adulthood by the age of twelve. They stood on the same podium with all the other adult Jews, and age was not a factor. They were not given a separate building or special hour for services. At the age of twelve or thirteen they were not labeled as teenagers, but adults; and they were not isolated. They all participated in the same services.This type of mindset about young people (young adults) still exist in the Middle Eastern, African, and Asian cultures; that is why it is sometimes difficult to convert the people of these other religions to Christianity. They were taught and molded since they were weaned. Since most of the Christian countries have raised the ages of adulthood to between 18 to 22 years old, it seems as if our children should have be more than prepared for discipleship and the adult world. They will replace us when we depart this earth. In my assessment, we may have failed them, and need to re-visit our Christian foundation principles. The cost of our system of justice is too much of a burden on our governments and citizens, and cannot be remedied by politics, money, sticks, stones, guns, or legislation. It could only be cured directly or indirectly by the word of God that was spoken through Jesus Christ.
Proverbs 22:6 - Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
River of Life Evangelistic Outreach