‘With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world!’ (Ellen G. White, Education, p. 271.)
This well-known quote is often used as the basis for Adventist youth ministry, a work the Irish Mission takes seriously. As valued members of the church family, they are nurtured through various support networks: Sabbath School, local church youth groups, Adventurers and Pathfinders, the Irish Mission the teen and young adult ‘Outposts’ project and the Irish Mission Adventist Students’ Association (IMASA).
Working together, church leaders, parents and members are faithfully working to equip the next generation to carry the torch of service and mission in Ireland. But, more than that, they are working to help youth find Jesus and accept Him as their personal Saviour and Friend.
An easy task in today’s world?
Not at all, as it is clear to us that the devil truly walks around as a lion, seeking to devour our youth, to quote 1 Peter 5:8. They face challenges that older members of the church family have never had to deal with: not least, from ever rising social pressures in our increasingly digital world. As one young person recently put it: in the process of ‘questioning my self-worth as a child, I turned away from the church and into a world of drugs and alcohol, trying to find a place to fit in. . . .’
Sadly, this is not an uncommon story among our youth. When confronted with what society offers – instant gratification, sexual excitement without commitment, and the ‘it’s all about me’ survival of the fittest culture – they have lost sight of their purpose and sense of self-value in Christ. Our aim is to engage with them, listen to them, encourage them, and, in partnership with the Holy Spirit, lead them back to Christ! Our ministry is long-term, ensuring that we can help prevent the next generation of youth from taking the same painful path. Our ministry is modelled as follows, regarded as a duty – to establish our youth in Christ:
‘Let the youth remember that here they are to build characters for eternity, and that God requires them to do their best. Let those older in experience watch over the younger ones; and when they see them tempted, take them aside, and pray with them and for them’ (Ellen G. White, Messages to Young People, p. 18).
It’s a tall order, for sure – but, in contrast to a despairing spirit, we are energised about this challenge, particularly with the recent appointment of Pastor Jefferson Melki as the new youth sponsor. The son of a pastor, Jefferson comes with a ‘prodigal son’ experience, and aims to ‘support Irish Mission youth in becoming disciples of Christ; and, as they do so, to reach their full potential’. Excited about his new role, he is clear about the missional impact of such a group of youth. ‘Imagine if Irish Mission youth believed in, became like, and ultimately took on and lived the same mindset of Christ. If this became a reality, I don’t think that their impact on Ireland and Northern Ireland can be underestimated!’
Pastor Jeff begins his ministry by interacting with youth leaders and the youth themselves, aiming to engage active and non-active members in friendly dialogue to identify their needs.
These needs will be addressed over the next two years, focusing on the following three aspects:
In-reach: To teach and equip the active youth, leadership roles will be offered to the youth in various activities, and in the process they will be nurtured into the future leaders of the Irish Mission.
Outreach: To help and guide our struggling youth back to church, activities such as sports, mental health discussions, addiction recovery sessions, apologetics talks, outposts and IMASA will be aimed at helping these youth realise that church is so much more than just a regular Saturday service. The main goal is to help them find Christ as their ultimate hope, purpose, and strength.
Media Ministry: To keep the youth further engaged in their spiritual growth, they will be directed to sources of online books, sermons, Christian motivational videos, and music designed for them.
It’s exciting, isn’t it?! Whether you are an Irish Mission member or you belong to a church in the wider British Union Conference, we ask you to pray for us as together we help establish a new start for youth work in the Irish Mission. In your own church, why not become involved by learning the names of your church’s youth and using them, often? For more information on how you can get involved in this youth work, email Pastor Jeff – email@example.com