International (MNN) – The saying goes “youth is wasted on the young” – but is it really? By the sounds of it, Eric Mock with Slavic Gospel Association would say it’s not.
SGA works with youth ministry programs in Ukraine, Russia, Uzbekistan, Belarus, and even in Israel. But these ministries aren’t trying to only invite the young into the church, they’re trying to prepare to send them out.
Mock says, “This is a youth movement, Biblically based youth ministry, that has been derived from years of ministry under communism. Imagine in a church, where you are filled with grandparents, fathers, and youth – where [people] are coming in the middle of the night, or knocking at homes and taking the grandfathers and fathers away. Either to exile or to be executed.”
In these scenarios, the responsibilities for church leadership falls on the youth. Mock says, when it happens these young people really step up. “We have young men and women who are reaching out and really being the arms and legs of the church,” Mock explains.
Here’s what’s happening. Many of the churches in these countries are taking the time to raise and train their youth in music, Bible teaching, preaching, and other areas of Evangelism. In some churches, youth are even required to give a 15-minute sermon during a church service.
Mock says, “You never know when God is going to call upon you to step into a role of contributing to the body life of the Church.”
That’s why these churches are looking at their purpose not being in bringing new people into the church, but sending people out of the Church to use theirs gifts and share the Gospel. And, as a result, young people are becoming vital to their ministries.
SGA helps these churches in a couple of ways. For one, it has a youth ministry program which works with leaders to train young people in Russia and other countries. SGA also has another youth program called Youth IN.
Youth IN gets behind churches already preparing their young people for ministry by providing the resources they need to grow in God’s word. The program also helps resource these churches and their young for community outreach. Mock has stories of young people preaching God’s word in city squares and others who are using their time to help missionaries plant local churches.
“What we need to do is see that God has saved even the younger generation to be used mightily for the Gospel. We don’t need to babysit them or keep them out of trouble. We need to invest in them and equip them, and provide opportunities for them to serve.”
And as these churches and young people push through to share the Gospel and disciple others, will you pray for them? Pray for their hearts to be guarded and for them to hold fast to the Gospel. Pray for them to continue growing in God and His word and pray for their safety.
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For more information about these youth ministries or for questions, call 1-800-BIBLE50.