“What we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done,” – Ps 78:3-4
Young people present an incredible mission field! Author, Gerald Kelly explains that the future belongs to those who are presently young: “This is a truism to end all truisms. When we think about the future, we often fall into the trap of projecting our own experience forward and of assuming that the concerns of our own day and generation will remain the concerns of tomorrow. The reality couldn’t be more different and it is essential that our focus shift to those who will both shape and inherit tomorrow; the next generation.” He challenges the church to reevaluate and prioritize the young in four ways:
• Reevaluating our budgets – how much money is allocated that actually meets the needs of Gen X and Millennial generations.
• Reevaluating our strategies – how many of our strategic decisions are targeted towards these youth and include them in the process.
• Reevaluating our use of time – how much of our time in terms of thinking, activity, study and work deals with the rising generation.
• Reevaluating our trust – when is the last time we took a risk and trusted a younger person to take on responsibility?
In the last twenty-plus years, as we at Bread for Life have been rethinking the foundation of church-based activity and seeking to understand how together we might revolutionize life across our continent, it has become very clear to us that as a ministry, we MUST prioritize the young. Several studies have shown that most people who trust Jesus as their savior do so before the age of 15. Studies also show that a child’s moral development is set by the age of 9. Ernest Ehabe, our founder and president, became a Christian at the age of 13. Most of the memory verses he knows today were at that age! What a difference that early decision and formation made for him.
The Roman Catholics have a saying, “if you give me a child at the age of 7, he will be a Catholic the rest of his life.” Can you image what the world would look like if we reach them at an early age, before the years when they will say, I have no pleasure in this (Eccl 12:1).
In the last few years, we have made an intentional and deliberate effort to build in such a way that the young are prioritized. Everything we do – from our ministry bases to new church plants, the young would be prioritized.
Unfortunately, in our part of the world, because of limited resources and lack of visionary leadership, churches are not built with the young in mind. Ernest recently had a lengthy discussion about this subject with two pastors of two BFL related church plants who have just secured land for their churches and are trusting the Lord to build. He shared with them about the need of prioritizing the young and encouraged them to build in such a way that the young are included. They both agreed! Will you join us as we prioritize the young and position the next generation to make a difference?