Eurasia (MNN) — Youth ministry in Slavic churches looks a bit different than in the West. In America, youth ministry can tend to look like a teen club for entertainment. If young people are involved in Gospel outreach, the adults often do the planning and the youth go along for the ride.
However, Eric Mock with Slavic Gospel Association (SGA) says in churches across Eurasia, youth ministry covers teens and young adults, and they’re not there to be entertained. Instead, young people consider themselves as active members of the Church and seek out their own ministry opportunities.
Mock gives an example of young people in a Russian church who heard about nearby villages that didn’t know Jesus.
“The young people actually went out to some of these villages and started picking up trash [and] started taking the time to walk around and be a blessing to people they have never met before. They [would] go to the playgrounds and start fixing the playground equipment that might have been broken down and doing repairs and painting things,” Mock says.
“The locals couldn’t believe that someone that wasn’t from their town was taking the time to make a difference. That opened the door and they began sharing the Gospel with different people.”
Then there’s the story of Dmitri, a 23-year-old young man who saw a need in Eastern Ukraine for Christ’s hope amidst intense conflict.
Mock says, “He and his friend both went out there and not only were they delivering food, but even in the midst of all the conflict…they’re being youth leaders out there [and] enabling the youth to be used even in the middle of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.”
SGA mobilizes the Church to be the hands and feet of Christ across Eurasia, and young people are an active part of their ministry.
“Several months prior to Christmas, they were the ones that were preparing the programs,” Mock says. “Many of them are the ones that are performing in the dramas for the Christmas programs [and] are the ones Christmas caroling from house-to-house. They are the ones that are leading the Emanuel’s Child-supported Christmas ministries. When they complete the Christmas outreach, they begin a series of follow-up…. By the time they get into March, they’re preparing for summer camps, and by the time they get through summer camps, they’re looking for other outreaches.”
Young people also fuel SGA’s Orphans Reborn program. They are often the ones visiting with the orphans, playing with them, and ministering to them.
This model of empowering young people in ministry is a positive example for our Western brothers and sisters in Christ.
Mock encourages, “Don’t discount the younger in the Church as being those who are just given a separate ministry, but instead enable them to not just attend Church but be the Church, to give them the skill set they need and the opportunity to bring much glory to God.”
You can get involved by supporting youth ministry through SGA churches. Click here to give at SGA’s website!
Along with giving, your prayers also fuel the Body of Christ in Eurasia. Mock offers these requests:
“Pray as needed for the resources. They need the gas to go out to the village, the gas for the airplanes. We’ve got several airplanes over there that we work in partnership with another ministry. Those airplanes are flying to remote regions with youth and they’re going into these villages and taking the Gospel to them.
“Pray that God, in advance, begins to open up new avenues — whether it be to unreached villages, whether it be to orphanages, whether it be to urban settings in inner cities where people are so discouraged. Pray for the youth to be active in taking the Gospel to a lost and hurting world.”
Header photo courtesy of Akira Hojo via Unsplash.