7 Things to Remember When Doing Youth Ministry

My earliest experiences in reaching out to young people and serving them was at church camps back in the ’90s.

I was really just a young person then as well when I first started serving as one of the youth camp staff (assistant dorm counselor). The participants and staff came from different parts of the country (Philippines). I continued serving in this national church youth camp for the next two summers. And then the practice of holding national camps was stopped and regional camps and city-wide/province-wide camps were held instead. I continued to serve on for several years and then stopped as I moved to Thailand to serve as a missionary there.

Prior to moving to Thailand, I was given the opportunity to work with former street children in Cebu. A number of these children were in their teens. I served among these young people for a full year before I left for Thailand and when I came home after my first 2 years there. I served among them again until I was able to go back to Thailand.

In Thailand, particularly in Bangkok, I was given the privilege to help with youth work again in a local Thai church. My effort towards church planting/outreach work with a team also enabled me to connect with some young people in the village where I lived.

When I came back to the Philippines for good in 2007, I was eventually led to work with young people again. The difference this time, however, was I was now mainly involved in a training role and with the youth from different churches and groups throughout the country. I eventually helped in developing and producing a youth course which would help young people find their role in God’s Kingdom agenda and be engaged in the Great Commission. This course has been further refined and has now been made available in different countries. I let go of this training role for the youth in 2012 – the year I turned 40 🙂  I continue to love the young people that God sends my way but I have also come to realize that with my age, I may not be the best person to reach them now.

Through the years of serving the youth, I have learned a lot. I have gleaned several insights which I would like to share here. Perhaps as a youth worker or even as a parent, these 7 points might be of help to you:

  1. Listening is key. The best door, at least in my experience, in dealing with young people is to approach them with a listening ear. The youth have so many concerns which may no longer concern us older people 🙂  Many of them have heartbreaking stories about their families as well as failed relationships (romantic ones, friendships). If we want to reach them with the Gospel, if we desire to disciple them, we need to have ready ears to listen to them. We need to ask them questions and then be interested in what they have to say.
  2. Make room for fun. Approaching young people with too much seriousness and formality will not work. You need to be able to share laughter with them. Ask what songs or movies they like. What are their hobbies? Engage them with fun activities whenever possible. Do not make them think that having a relationship with the Lord is just all about reading the Bible and Bible studies. Help them to understand that while following the Lord might mean saying no to certain things, it also means saying yes to a joyful, purposeful life in Him. 
  3. Spend time with them. Young people love to hang out. So it is best to allocate time to just be with them. You also need to watch, however, and remind them that they also need to be spending time with their family. I have heard of many stories of parents complaining that once their kids become believers (especially if the parents do not have their own faith journey), they now spend so much time “at church” or being involved in “youth meetings” (other versions: Bible studies, discipleship classes, youth activities). While the young people may come to love our company as well as that of their fellow young people, it is our responsibility to make them aware that their world is not just us or their Christian friends. That, in fact, now more than ever they are meant to be a blessing to their family and to others. We should not take away their family time or school time away from them.
  4. Be authentic. In past generations, there seems to be a prevalent thought or value that Christian leaders need to always portray an image that they are strong, that they do not have weaknesses. That approach, I must say, no longer works especially with young people. We do not have to confess all our sins or weaknesses to young people but we need to be honest that yes, we have our own problems, our own struggles and weakness. And what keeps us intact and going is Christ’s grace and strength. When we make mistakes, we admit and apologize.
  5. Walk the talk. This is related to the previous point. Sometimes when we teach something to young people, we might think they have not really paid attention. But they do. And they will actually observe if we live ourselves the things we taught them or challenged them to live by.
  6. Always pray for them. Pray for them by name. Ask God to be real in their lives. We are just instruments of God’s truth. It is God’s work to transform their hearts and minds.
  7. Be updated with youth trends, concerns, challenges. Understand their world, their concerns and challenges. Read about these. Ask them questions. You need to be able to relate God’s word to their world. When you do Bible studies or discipleship, contextualize what they are learning into their own situation.

The journey of reaching and serving young people is both fun and challenging. But like all things we do, we can always ask God for wisdom and for the grace to continue the journey.

New Beginnings – The Way Forward

I started this blog in March 2015. And my very first blog post was this.

My main purpose in starting this blog has been to put articles of inspiration — spurred by all things positive and good going on around the world.  And the reason behind that is there seems to be more news focused on all the negative things going on but the truth is there is always something good going on around the world as well. But the problem is it is not as amplified as the news of crime, corruption, war — well, you get the picture.

Well, I think I started out with a good purpose but the reality is I couldn’t maintain this blog! There were just too many things going on in my life and not to mention the reality of maintaining other blogs. So this blog became like a neglected child in what could be a dark and lonely internet world.

My last post was so last year! Check here to see it. And like many other things that we do not anymore have time to take care of, I considered just totally stopping this blog. That means not renewing its domain name (Inspire Now) and getting it out of my paid hosting plan. But then there were some new stirrings in my heart about this blog as 2017 came in. A new direction for this blog began to occupy my thoughts.

I began to think: what makes my life full and fulfilling? Well, that is following and serving the Lord. Yup, and that’s one thing that my husband and I do together as well as separately. And so I looked back and see myself as far back as the early 1990’s when as a university student, I already began volunteering to teach kids at church and serving the choir during Sundays and serving the youth in summer youth camps ran by the church.

By the late ’90’s, I came to see serving should not just be done within the church, there’s serving to be done by the church and outside of the church, too. So my path of serving the Lord began to change. My husband has his own stories of serving God and people, too. In short, we have many stories and learnings (!) to share to those who would like to listen. And we can share them right here at Inspire Now.

Some of the specific things we have been involved in for the last two decades (close to three actually) include:

Cross-cultural missions
*serving as a missionary, missions mobilizer
Church leadership
Support Raising/Fundraising
Counseling
Preaching and Teaching
Worship/Music
Developing ministry teaching/training material and translation
Men’s Ministry
Serving in the marketplace
Youth ministry and camps
Children ministry and outreach

After writing that list, I was amazed at how many things God has allowed and led us to be involved in. Through this site,we hope to help others as they navigate their own journey of serving the LORD. We do not have all the answers but we will share what we can as to how we have been able to continue the path of serving the LORD of the harvest!

May Inspire Now truly inspire its readers to serve the Lord and His people and to reach others that they, too, may find their call and purpose in the light of eternity!

Darlene Zschech on Moving Forward After a Miscarriage

Unknown to many, renowned Australian worship leader and singer-songwriter Darlene Zschech suffered a miscarriage at one point of her life.

Zschech acknowledges the pain and heartbreak that comes with losing her baby. She also shares how she journeyed forward despite the loss, how she coped with this challenge.

Watch the video below and be inspired 🙂

A Campaign that Matters: Unilab PH’s #HusayatMalasakit

Sometimes, we end up associating advertisements or marketing campaigns just about selling a product. And so when it goes beyond this consideration, I think we should not just sit and notice. I think we, the consuming public, should appreciate the effort.

When Unilab PH unveiled their Husay and Malaskit campaign, I think we Filipinos did see and notice the difference. How could we not? It reminded us living is not just going about life without a care for what is excellent, without dedication and without care for others.

Unilab PH came up with videos that talked about their own dedication to husay and malasakit. But more than that they came up with videos and campaigns through blog posts and social media reminding all of us– we are where we are today because somebody enough cared to encourage us to excel, somebody cared enough to support us and even sacrificed for us so we could be better versions of ourselves.  We are reminded that whatever version of success we stand on today, somebody guided us, nudged us tirelessly towards it.

May it be that other companies  also make marketing initiatives every now and then that not only talk about how wonderful their product is. That there is more to advertising and marketing than “looking good or being the best” or getting the most profit. That sometimes the best way that our product or business can make a difference is promoting others first 🙂

 

ISIS Militant Converts to Christianity

While the world reels from attacks done by Islamic State (ISIS) militant, the last few months have also seen the conversion of an ISIS militant into Christianity.

According to reports, a Youth With a Mission (YWAM) worker got to know an ISIS fighter who admitted not only to killing a number of Christians but also enjoyed doing it.

That is, until he encountered Jesus in a dream.

The jihadist told the YWAM personnel that he had begun having dreams of this man in white who came to him and said, ‘You are killing my people.’ He, reportedly, began to feel really sick and uneasy about what he was doing.

The militant was also given a Bible by a Christian man who was about to be killed. He accepted the Bible and began to read it. And then in another dream, Jesus asked him to follow him.

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He is now asking to become a follower of Christ and to be discipled.

Kevin Sutter, current president of YWAM Frontier Missions, noted that there’s a lesson to be learnt here: not assuming that ISIS militants are “out of each of God’s grace and out of reach of God’s spirit”.

He adds that there are “gospel programmes going out in Arabic throughout the region, radio and TV and there is a huge response.”

“Many people are now following Jesus but they keep it quiet,” says Sutter. “They haven’t gone public about it. They even have church in their own home, they’re watching, they’ll serve Communion to one another as they’re watching TV.”

And so while ISIS militants are in control of huge swathes of Iraq and Syria, it doesn’t really mean that the Gospel has no means of capturing them.

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Based on reports from Christiantoday.com
Photo: Arvind Balaraman/freedigitalphotos.net

Looking Back: Asia’s Got Talent Grand Winner El Gamma Penumbra’s Inspiring Performances

The performances of Asia’s Got Talent (AGT) grand winner El Gamma Penumbra from the Philippines specifically during the semi-finals and grand finals are truly inspiring.

Their performances remind us that artists and performers are able to bring powerful messages in their performance that bring awareness and inspire change.

That the group lost in the local version of the show (Pilipinas Got Talent Season 3) and yet went on to conquer the bigger stage of Asia is in itself an inspiring story 🙂

Watch their powerful performances again 🙂

El Gamma Penumbra’s semi-final performance

El Gamma Penumbra’s winning performance at the AGT grand finals

It’s True: Not All Who Wander are Lost

Are you unsure what to do next in your life? Or perhaps it’s not you but it’s your loved one or close friend who feels that way.

There maybe times when we are not so sure what step to take next after a career change, a relocation or a change of status. Or it could be that you sense that after a time of prayer, God is putting you in the waiting room.

Well then, perhaps this infograhic will bring a smile to your face or to your loved one or friend who sees it 🙂

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Image: fundersandfounders.com

Afghanistans’ 1st Female Rangers Patrol Band-e-Amir National Park

For Afghanistan to hire women to protect Band-e-Amir, its 1st National Park, is a breath of fresh air in the light of us hearing mostly war stories about this country. After all, this is a pioneering initiative in a country where only 16 percent of women work.

The Band-e-Amir Park and the destroyed Buddhas of Bamiyan were said to be popular stops in the hippie trails of the 1960s. But the wars that have beset Afghanistan and the reality of the Taliban has meant the lost of foreign tourists frequenting these scenic spots.

Band-e-Amir national park
Band-e-Amir national park

As Afghanistan tries to move forward and rebuild itself, it has made an apparently bold move to hire women to train and protect the country’s National Park. Fatima, Kubra, Nikbakht, and Sediqa are the park’s first and only female wardens. Along with other rangers their responsibilities include: assisting local tourists, teaching children about conservation and ensuring visitors do no harm to the park.

The 1st female wardens in Band-e-Amir.
The 1st female wardens in Band-e-Amir.

Stretching over 570 square kilometres, Band-e-Amir was declared a national park in 2009. It has six azure blue mineral lakes surrounded by cliffs. It is also home to wildlife such as the Persian leopard, ibex, urials as well as the Afghan snow finch.

We look forward to Afghanistan making more strides towards development and growth especially in its peace situation, opportunities for women to work and protection of its natural resources and wildlife.

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Based on reports from Aljazeera.com
Photos: Leslie Knott/Aljazeera

From Problem to Opportunity: Houses Made of Tires in Colombia

What may appear to be a problem can actually mean an opportunity.

Colombians throw out more than 5.3 million tires a year, according to official figures. This means nearly 100,000 tonnes of rubber that can pollute the environment. But these tires that litter the roads of Colombia have now been used as materials to build unique houses instead, thanks to the efforts of  a 35-year-old environmental activist: Alexandra Posada.

Posada revealed to Agence France-Presse (AFP) that she gets the tires for free “because it’s a huge problem for people to get rid of them.” She added: “They take thousands of years to decompose — which we’ve transformed from a problem into an opportunity.” When these tires are used as construction materials, “they become virtually eternal bricks.”

The houses made of tires are also a picture of artistry. See photos of the houses below:

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Based on reports from AFP
Photos: Eitan Abramovich/AFP

On Change and Letting Go

Contemplating about change? Or about letting go and starting something new? Perhaps these cards from crosscards.com will inspire you just as they inspired me 🙂

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It can be this simple:

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Take that step with a dose of faith.

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Thanks to crosscards.com for the images.