Young people can be great missionaries!

 

Years ago, I was called to a church as Director of Christian Education, and I worked with the youth.  Other Bible teaching churches in our community had big gymnasiums and youth centers and fantastic, established youth programs.  We couldn’t compete, so I decided not to try.  I began working with our teenagers by encouraging them to go to the great programs at our sister churches and enjoy what they had to offer.  Then, bring their friends back to their home church, because we were going to do something totally new, something unique.  We were going to teach them to serve. We knew how to equip them for service in the name of Christ.

Maybe it sounded boring, but they gave me it chance anyway, many of them bringing friends too.  We taught them to teach children, to lead a child to Christ, singing & choreography and puppetry.  They began by teaching in our own Sunday School departments and local nursing homes We ended our first year with a mission trip.

We followed this cycle for the following 12 years, expanding to having local TV shows and being called on to perform in many exciting places, always ending the school year with a mission trip.  These mission trips took us to Appalachia, Bahamas, England, Mexico, and many other places.

During those 12 years, we saw amazing things happen among our young people.  Self-centered teens who went to the mission field wrapped up in their own desires, complaining all the way, came home with softened hearts and following Christ as their life goal.  Girls broke up with worldly boyfriends, because the direction for their lives changed as a result of their mission trips.  A new spirit of gratitude and appreciation to both God and their parents arose among us.

All of those teens stayed in the church throughout high school and college and are serving the Lord in various local churches where ever their careers have taken them today.They are world Christians, loving God, and making wise decisions in their lives.

I know, beyond a doubt, that our desire to equip our young people for service, then actually taking them out to make a difference in the world, has molded them into totally different adults than they would’ve been with any other youth ministry.  There’s nothing like it.  It would take a book to share all the amazing things we experienced and all the miracles we’ve seen on mission trips.

I encourage all youth leaders to add an annual mission trip to your youth program.  There are many clever ways to fund the project –and you know the teenagers love raising money.  Go for it! The positive results will last a lifetime and change the future.

Gloria Wahr, COI Florida

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