by Colleen Noblet
Pioneer & Leader of the Ministry Development School
I was a freckle-faced 18 year old who knew little of the things of God when I journeyed by car just eight hours from home to do my DTS. Three months later I took my first overseas plane trip with my outreach team of nine to the coastal city of Lae, Papua New Guinea. I didn’t know a whole lot except that God had done so much in my life and I was eager to tell others about His goodness.
Day after day, as we shared the Gospel through open air dramas and puppet shows, I was astounded at the number of people who would come to give their lives to God. It was exciting to see the prayers that God answered again and again on behalf of these young people. I was starting to learn that God believes in and champions youth.
Now, all these years later, I am still excited to see God work through the lives of young people. He delights in their simple obedience and belief that all things are possible through Him.
You don’t have to look hard to see through history that He always has. The Bible is full of stories ‘starring’ young heroes and heroines. A personal favourite of mine is the story of David and Goliath. (Maybe because Goliath described him as a “ruddy-faced boy” and it reminds me of some things said about my own freckled face!)
The unlikely underdog who does not stand a chance against the seasoned warrior comes out slinging a stone and dongs the expert warrior on the head, killing him instantly and securing victory for the nation. David, despite being young, had proven character. We see in 1 Samuel 17 that he was a diligent servant of King Saul, a hard worker, an obedient son to his father, brave and fearless as a shepherd and soldier, fiercely loyal to God and His reputation. He trusted God completely. David is in good company with many other young people: Esther, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Samuel, Namaan’s wife’s servant girl in 2 Kings 5, Mary. Jesus’ mother was young, too, as were most of Jesus’ disciples. Think about the boy who gave his lunch to feed over 5,000 people, and Timothy, just to name a few.
The Bible proves time and again that God values youth. He promotes, believes in and trusts youth.
Not just with small things, but with big, major assignments for His kingdom. He values them highly and we should too. He gives them time, and invests in their lives. Think of how He trained David as a shepherd using bears and lions in preparation for facing the fierce giant. If He believes in young people, shouldn’t we as His people spend time and energy investing in their lives too?
How could you do this? Get to know the young people around you, seek them out. Make time for them, come alongside them, and champion their dreams and potential. Invite them over to your home for a meal or to hang out, and let them spend time with you and/or your family. Listen to their story, hear their heart, share your stories of struggle and discouragement, of change and victory – ways God has answered your prayers and miracles you have seen.
Take them under your wing and disciple them. Encourage them to go on a missions trip or get involved in serving others practically, going outside their comfort zone, doing things where they have to trust God rather than their own capacity. Invest financially in seeing them trained and equipped for serving God. Support their own personal growth and development as well as involvement in serving the wider community.
Young people need people to believe and trust in them.
They need leaders to reach out to them and entrust them with something that is bigger to stretch for. I remember several years ago reaching out to a couple of young women and asking them what excited them and what they were passionate about.
As they shared their heart, I invited them to join us as a mission in their areas of passion – one in administration and serving others, and the other in community development. I think both of them were surprised that someone wanted them on their team – that someone would dare to take a risk and believe and walk with them in the journey.
That is the power of leadership to champion and trust young people. Paul believed in Timothy and he became a trusted and valuable team member, someone who was reliable and grew into a great leader. Remember Paul’s challenge to Timothy: “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young…” (1 Timothy 4:12 NLT) Young people need people to believe and trust in them.
Is there a ruddy-faced or freckle-faced young person you can take under your wing and invest in? You never know – they could be a Timothy, David, an Esther, or a career missionary in the making.
This article was published in the
January 2018 edition of Westcoast News.
Read the other articles from this edition: