The third Sabbath of February 2011 was a pivotal day for the Toronto CGI Youth Interaction Forum. What was different about this session was that the parents and the rest of the adult population of the Church were invited to sit in as an audience to listen in as the youth interacted with moderator Bro. Adrian (a MAP Candidate) and his wife Jennifer. It was not only an enlightening experience but an experience to remember. The youth were faced with pointed and piercing questions like “What do you think accounts for so many young people leaving the Church when they become adults and what can the Church do to retain them?”, “How can we ensure that you feel this is your church and not just the church your parents take you to?”, “In a generation of instant gratification, how does one develop character when character is a function of patience?”, “How do you feel about your privacy being compromised by social media sites like Facebook?”. Toward the end of the discussion, the adults were invited to pose additional questions to the youth. They posed questions like, “Who are your role models?” and “What is your relationship with Jesus Christ like?”
The answers to these questions were eye-openers for the leaders and the congregants alike. As the local Pastor, I found this session to be a stirring moment of truth. But as valuable as this session was, it will be of little worth without a genuine follow through on the concerns and suggestions raised by the youth.
Youth is a really exciting time of life. Youngsters have energy, they are daring, and their hearts are filled with visions of the future. In fact, the time of youth is a most valuable period for giving one’s life in service to God. But youth can be a frustrating time of life. It is that period when one is hardly old enough to be on one’s own, and yet old enough to feel a sense of independence. Youth are ever attempting to find some sense of identity; that is why they sometimes act and dress differently from the adult members of their family.
The Scriptures represent “youth” as both a time of danger and a time of challenge. In 2 Tim. 2:22, Paul admonished Timothy to “flee youthful lusts”. But the Bible also reveals that God places a high value on youth. Solomon, who wasted much of his life in folly, perhaps thought better of the matter in his declining days. In EccI. 12:1, He stated:“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, I have no pleasure in them”. In 1 Tim. 4:12, Paul told Timothy: “Let no man despise your youth; but you be an example to them that believe, in word, in manner of life, in love, in faith, in purity”.
The Bible is replete with examples of how God has used younger people in some of the most vital roles in the unfolding of his marvelous plan of redemption. Joseph is one such example. God used Joseph as an instrument to preserve the Hebrew nation – out of which came the incarnation of Christ.
Of all the women in Israel, God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus. God could have chosen an elderly mature woman as he did with Sarah. But instead he chose a youth to give the most important birth in the history of mankind. Something of her spiritual depth is seen in the psalm she uttered often called the “Magnifcat” or Song of Mary (Luke 1:46-55).
It was young David who struck down Goliath when an entire adult army failed. It was Miriam who saved Moses from Pharoah’s hand. You are never too young to reach the highest heights! Josiah became king of Israel at the age of eight. You can accomplish great feats at a young age if you avail yourself to do the will of God.
Reviewing these cases and others, clearly shows that youngsters, properly trained, are capable of courageous faith and considerable usefulness in the work of God. We salute the youth of our congregation. The future of the congregation belongs to them. Let us give them every support and opportunity to develop and grow and become the leaders that God intend them to be!