This ministry is but a small part of a larger movement that is happening in Indonesia. It has come about as a means to prepare youths to become true disciples of Christ who would bring about God’s Kingdom into the community. “Call, Build, Send” is our motto. We “call” every youth and “build” their character to “send” them to become influencers in the various spheres of life.
One of our youths who has opened a farming business is currently working with the government in providing consultancy to society. Another has become a lecturer, dedicating his life to impart his knowledge of mathematics to the people of Papua (1). He is also a leadership trainer and a missionary. Yet another works in the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After finding their own calling, they are better able to impact society and become witnesses to people that are within their spheres of influence.
Most of the youths (75%) that my ministry serves come from other provinces and are currently studying or working in Jakarta. Many of them live in rented accommodation and have little or no family with them and so, we have become their family.
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” We believe that today’s youths are growing weary of large events where celebrities and speakers talk big, dress up their words, and sensationalize but end up as nothing but mere noise. Many youths have had enough and are adopting an “anti-NATO” (No Action, Talk Only) stance. They are disillusioned by all the meaningless drivel and are simply looking for people who really care about them. We reach out to them through cell groups, where community interactions occur and allow them to experience the love of Christ together. Christ Himself commanded, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (Jn 13:34-35). We don’t merely talk of the love of Christ but allow them to experience the love of Christ for themselves through community bonding.
Once they have experienced the love of Christ, they will eventually be asking questions like why do we sacrifice time and energy to help them move furniture or why do we devote time to send them to the doctor when they are ill. These are opportunities that arise for us to share Christ with them.
Youths are full of energy. They dare to test the limits of their boundaries. Because of this, they need a “safety net,” not just judgment. They need a place where they can feel at peace in the midst of their shortcomings as well as where they can be corrected and heard. We are friends they can turn to in dark times, listening to their problems and feelings. We believe that bad experiences can teach youths valuable lessons. They can learn from each mistake and make amends. We befriend them as well as direct them to live daily according to the Word of God so that they may find their distinct calling in life. This is mentoring and discipleship. It is necessary for us to develop deep relationships with them as well as to look ahead in order to guide them effectively.
Our challenge lies in the fact that the time we have with them is a mere four year window and thereafter, they will return to their hometowns or pursue a university education abroad. Only a few of them stay to become workers or mentors to the next generation of youths.
We also experience limitations in finding a suitable location to have our cell group meetings. To address this, several of our youth workers have been willing to rent us a house that is now used for our gatherings. It is in a vicinity where our neighbors restrict and confront us for holding our meetings to the extent where they even throw rocks at us.
It is indeed a struggle for our ministry when our neighbors are also our persecutors. It is precisely in instances like these that the mandate to bless those who persecute us applies. We bless our neighborhood by cleaning the drains and donating rice to them because we hold true to the words of Christ in Matthew 5:44-45, “But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” It is in challenges like these that we can grow to become more like Christ.
I believe in three things about youths: they are like buried treasure, gems yet to be cut, and gold that has yet to be purified.
To find buried treasure, we need to dig out the potential that lies within each one. It takes time to discover and develop this potential, but once we have succeeded, they will in turn impact lives.
To get a perfectly cut gemstone, the gemstone needs to experience friction and scrapes just as the youth needs to be shaped and scraped in his character in the right manner. This cutting process represents the rebuking and apt guidance that precedes growth in godly character. As this happens, the gem is continually being refined and it will glow more splendidly just as the youth grows in godly, good character.
Finally, to get purified gold, the ore needs to be heated until it melts so that its purest form can emerge. One must turn to Job 23:10 where he says, “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Furthermore, this refinement and purification cannot come about if one is left alone. As it says in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” This is a clear example of how our youths need someone in their lives to guide them. They need someone in their lives to strengthen them so that they can be on the right track and on the right path in their respective callings.
This vision of uncovering buried treasure, yielding well shaped gems and purified gold have allowed us to hold our ground to serve the youths, in the midst of moments where we cannot see progress and want to give up as we realize that God sees much farther than we can.
I believe in the saying, “The future of a nation can be seen in their youths” because in ten to twenty years’ time, they will be in strategic positions to influence the nation and the world. They are children of God and the ambassadors of His kingdom. When we can see the value in youths, we will not let them pass. We will prepare them now to be the people of God who will function in their spheres of influence, while remaining true to their respective calling and godly in their character.
(1) Kevin Sanly Putera. “My Jakarta: Andrea Parestu, Mathematician.” JakartaGlobe. May, 2012. www.thejakartaglobe.com/myjakarta/my-jakarta-andrea-parestu-mathematician/517904.
The New International Version Bible has been referenced.
This article “Nurturing Today’s Youths To Be Tomorrow’s Leaders” byHarry Setyadi Wijaya was first published in the June 2012 issue of Eagles VantagePoint magazine (www.vantagepoint.com.sg). Used with permission.